By Natalia Zinets and Valentyn Ogirenko
KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party on Thursday voted to remove parliamentary speaker Dmytro Razumkov, accusing him of putting his own interests above those of the governing party.
Razumkov had been suspended on Tuesday and his dismissal was confirmed by 284 votes in the 450-seat parliament, where Servant of the People commands a majority.
Deputy speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk will be nominated to take Razumkov’s place, Servant of the People party lawmakers said.
Razumkov was a member of Zelenskiy’s core election team when the president swept to a landslide victory in 2019. But as speaker he opposed the quick passage of legislation intended to limit the influence of oligarchs on politics and business. Representatives of the opposition have accused Zelenskiy’s party of undermining democracy by dismissing the speaker.
“We went (to parliament) in order to change the country, to make it better…I tried to make at least some of these promises come true,” Razumkov said during Thuraday’s parliamentary session.
“The principle of the rule of law has changed to political expediency, (and) the principle of the right to one’s own position and freedom of speech has been replaced by the principle of ‘who is not with us is against us’.”
Opposition lawmakers say the legislation on reining in oligarchs, initiated by Zelenskiy, gives too much power to the president and creates more avenues for corruption. Zelenskiy says it is necessary to protect Ukraine from powerful businessmen who have corrupted its political system for decades.
Razumkov had wanted the bill referred to the Venice Commission, a European rights body, but the legislation was passed last month.