March 2, 2017 / 3:28 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Citing coffin protest, Ukraine central bank chief says she may quit

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KIEV, March 2 (Reuters) - Ukraine's central bank chief suggested on Thursday she may not stay in her post for much longer, citing protests that have included a coffin left at her door.

On Monday, news agency RBK quoted sources as saying Valeriia Gontareva, who has headed the bank since mid-2014, had decided to resign.

Asked if the latest memorandum with the International Monetary Fund would be the last with her signature on it, Gontareva told journalists: "That could be the case."

"But I repeat that the central bank makes announcements (of personnel changes) one month in advance. We have made no such announcement," she said at a briefing.

Under her stewardship, the central bank has switched to a flexible hryvnia rate and launched a clean-up of the banking system that led to the closure of half of Ukraine's lenders and the nationalisation of its largest, Privatbank.

Her sometimes hardline policies have caused some members of parliament to call for her to be sacked. There have been protests by Ukrainians who accuse her of incompetence.

Asked why she thought her tenure could soon be at an end, Gontareva said small protests could be an indicator of broader public opinion.

"Yesterday there was a coffin with my head in it at the main entrance of the central bank," she said. "If the whole country sees that as normal, then that's that."

Parliament approved Gontareva's appointment at a time of economic crisis after a pro-European uprising in Kiev triggered a conflict with Russia-backed separatists, pushing the hryvnia currency to record lows.

The hryvnia is now relatively stable, trading at around 27 to the dollar, but remains vulnerable to internal and external risks.

Under the constitution, the president is responsible for choosing and dismissing the central bank governor. Parliament can vote to remove her but needs the president's backing. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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