KIEV, March 26 – A top Kiev official, who led a snow emergency response over the past four days, resigned on Tuesday in the first political fallout following the worst snowstorm in a century.
Oleksandr Mazurchak, the first deputy head of the Kiev administration, said he will assume full responsibility for a mess caused by the snowstorm and for delayed and inadequate response.
“The collapse that has taken place is not my fault,” Mazurchak said, but added that as the leader of the emergency response team “I am the best suited for the role of being guilty.”
The developments come as snow on Kiev streets has started to melt, flooding some areas and wreaking havoc on traffic in the city.
“It’s a natural phenomenon that hasn’t been seen for a hundred years. When 40 million metric tons of snow falls on the city, what would you do in my place? No one can [clear the snow] in two days,” Mazurchak said. “I'm not a magician and I can’t flip a magic wand to make it all just happen.”
The resignation may channel some anger away from Oleksandr Popov, the head of the Kiev administration, who was widely blamed by the city residents for the slow response.
Popov, an appointee of President Viktor Yanukovych, has been seeking to run for Kiev mayor’s office later this year and his approval ratings in Kiev may have further suffered after the snowstorm.
Both, Yanukovych and opposition groups sees Kiev mayor election as a crucially important vote ahead of the presidential election that is due in March 2015.
The opposition groups insist that the Kiev election must take pace in June, while Yanukovych’s allies would like to see the election postponed until after the presidential election.
The Constitutional Court, which had earlier issued pro-Yanukovych rulings, was recently asked to rule on the matter.
The resignation comes a day after media reports suggested Popov, despite a heavy snowfall forecast, traveled to Poland with Yanukovych on Friday to see a soccer game. Popov’s return to Kiev on Saturday, when the snowstorm was in its full swing, had effectively delayed the response, the reports said.
Mazurchak on Monday denied the reports. He said Popov called him at 4:00 AM on Saturday asking why the situation in Kiev was so bad.
“I don’t know who was watching the soccer game. I can show you the phone call,” Mazurchak said. (tl/ez)