Yulia Mendel will leave her post as President Volodymyr Zelensky’s spokesperson, Ukrainian media reported on April 30.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak, said that Mendel will keep her post “temporarily,” until the president’s office finalizes changes to its communication strategy.
Mendel didn’t respond to a request to comment. Her successor is yet to be announced.
Mendel, 34, took charge of the president’s press service in June 2019, weeks after Zelensky took office.
She was often criticized for her aggressive communication with journalists. Recently, Mendel began working on the Ukrainian state-owned TV channel Dom which many saw as a potential conflict of interest.
Mendel’s first major scandal struck in September 2019, when she shoved Serhiy Andrushko, a journalist with the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news agency.
Andrushko was trying to get a comment from Zelensky but was blocked by Zelensky’s press secretary.
Mendel responded to criticism by saying that she was protecting Zelensky’s “personal space.”
Mendel was often criticized for confusing Latvia and Lithuania and congratulating the “President of Canada.”
Mendel stepped into her most recent scandal when she began hosting a TV program on Dom (Home), a Russian-language TV channel aimed at parts of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian-backed militants.
The region is predominantly Russian-speaking and is in the firm grip of Kremlin-funded propaganda. The channel is meant to deliver an objective picture of what is happening in Ukraine.
In early March, the channel aired a political TV show “The view from the Bankova (street)” where Mendel was sharing her views on key political issues.
The video was lambasted by journalists, who saw a conflict of interest in a government channel hiring a government official as a host.
Many alleged that the channel was forced to hire Mendel.
After initial criticism, the channel backed down. Dom issued a statement that Mendel is a guest, who will talk about political issues that are important to the president’s office free of charge.
In early April, in her weekly show on Dom, Mendel said that Ukraine has its own version of the Russian language, which is part of Ukrainian culture.
The deputy head of the President’s Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko later said that Mendel’s comments are “her personal opinion.”
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