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By Marc Jones
LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Friday he had turned down an opportunity to become the country’s next central bank governor, adding he believed the post should be filled with a professional banker or economist.
The country’s current central bank chief, Valeriia Gontareva, suggested on Thursday she may not stay in her post for much longer.
Having headed the bank since mid-2014, Gontareva has overseen a clean-up of the banking sector and the floating of the hryvina, but also faced repeated calls from members of parliament to be sacked.
Speaking during a visit to London, Yatseniuk told an audience at Chatham House that he had “refused” the post of central bank governor.
“I do believe that the best option for another central bank governor is to have a professional banker or professional economist with no political affiliation at all - it is unacceptable to have a politically affiliated central bank governor,” he said.
Yatseniuk was acting governor of the central bank in 2004 and his name had been mentioned as a possible successor to Gontareva. He did not say who had offered him the post or when.
“There are a number of quite prominent folks in Ukraine, for example the CEO of Raiffeisen Aval, he is a very good guy,” Yatseniuk added, in comments that he cleared for publication after the conference.
Raiffeisen Bank Aval - the Ukrainian unit of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) - has been headed by Volodymyr Lavrenchuk since 2005.
Ukraine and Russia are involved in an ongoing court case in London over a $3 billion eurobond that Kiev sold to Moscow in the dying days of the Russia-backed Viktor Yanukovich presidency.
Yatseniuk said he believed Ukraine had sufficient grounds for victory, but added that defeat could have “a dramatic implication for the fiscal position and for the financial stability in my country - period.”
The English court, which held hearings on the case earlier in January, has yet to rule.
Ukraine is also waiting anxiously to see if it will retain the support of the United States against Russia following the election of Donald Trump as president.
Yatseniuk, who resigned as prime minister last April, was appointed after the “Maidan” street uprising that ousted Yanukovich.
His popularity declined, partly due to public perceptions that his government did too little to hold powerful oligarchs to account, but he remains respected by foreign investors. (Reporting by Marc Jones, writing by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Toby Davis)