The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has dismissed Health Minister Maksym Stepanov.
The minister's dismissal was backed by 292 Members of Parliament at a special meeting on May 18, 2021, which was initiated by 155 lawmakers, an UNIAN correspondent reported.
All members of the Batkivschyna Party's parliamentary faction abstained from the vote. As many as 203 members of the ruling Servant of the People Party's parliamentary faction backed the dismissal.
- Unlike Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Kryklii who resigned, having submitted a letter of resignation last week, Stepanov said he had not signed any letter of resignation and was going to remain in office "to fight for citizens' health."
- Prior to the vote on Stepanov's dismissal, the parliament's health committee did not back a motion to fire the health minister.
- First reports about Stepanov's possible resignation appeared back in the fall of 2020. In November 2020, there were rumors that the resignation was allegedly coordinated by the Office of the President and the Cabinet.
- Yaroslav Zheleznyak from the Holos (Voice) Party said then that the government on November 13, 2020, signed a document that would begin the process of dismissing the health minister. Immediately after that, Stepanov went on sick leave.
- On May 14, 2021, Olha Tuniy, the press secretary of the Verkhovna Rada's Chairman, announced that the Rada had received a motion filed by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to dismiss Stepanov.
- Head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction David Arakhamia said that the failure to procure COVID-19 vaccines and a feud with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal were behind the decision to dismiss the minister.
- According to Arakhamia, Chief Medical Officer Viktor Liashko may be nominated to replace Stepanov. The new minister is expected to be appointed as early as on Thursday, May 20, 2021.