KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday urged his government to rein in wartime spending, prompting the resignation of his culture minister, a backer of several high-profile and costly projects.
“In times of war like this, the state should give the utmost attention and therefore state resources should be devoted to defence,” Zelensky said in an evening video address, referring to an earlier conversation he had with Chancellor Denis Schmichl.
He told Schmihal to find alternative funding for “really necessary projects. This applies to everything including culture. Museums, cultural centres, signs, TV series are important, but we have other priorities.” Schmichal was asked to “consider replacing” Minister of Culture and Information Policy Alexander Tkachenko.
Within an hour, Tkachenko said he had offered to resign, but remained silent.
“Wartime culture matters because this war is not just about territory, it’s about people — despite the war, our memory, history, language and creativity,” Tkachenko, who headed a TV channel before entering politics, wrote on Telegram.
“Private and state funding of wartime culture is as important as funding of drones. Culture is a shield for our identities and borders.”
No word on whether his resignation was accepted.
Tkachenko, a well-known public figure, had earlier in the day defended the allocation of the equivalent of $5 million to complete a museum dedicated to the study of Ukraine’s man-made 13 famine linked to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s collectivization campaign.
He also promoted a project he said was privately funded to replace the Soviet-era insignia on the shield of the 13 meter (13 ft) “Motherland” statue of a woman that stands outside the city’s World War II museum.
Tkachenko also promoted films and TV shows related to the war with Russia.