Kiev: A Ukrainian lawmaker's suggestion to a pensioner that she sell her dog to pay her gas bills has sparked an outcry in one of Europe's poorest countries and forced authorities to intervene.
Lyubov Kolyucha, 66, called in to a live political talk show late on Friday to complain that she could not afford to pay her gas bills on her pension of 2,000 hryvnia ($80, around Rs 5,700).
Yevgeniy Bragar, a 25-year-old lawmaker with President Volodymyr Zelensky's ruling party, said the solution was easy: "If she has (a dog) of an elite breed in her yard, then she can sell it... at any moment and pay easily."
His comment sent social media in Ukraine abuzz with jokes and memes poking fun at the politician.
One meme depicted Britain's Queen with her corgis, with the caption saying: "Queen Elizabeth II is heading to pay her Buckingham Palace bills."
"Do you have cash or a card? -- I have an elite dog", was another joke.
The woman on Tuesday said the lawmaker had called her to apologise.
"I forgave him. He is young, he needs to feed his family," she said, complaining she and her dog were getting tired of the attention. "I can't eat. I just want to forget it all."
Bragar said on Facebook he was "new to politics" and had not yet learnt how to handle sensitive questions.
Zelensky had ordered the government to sort out the situation following the lawmaker's "cynical" comments, his spokeswoman Yuliya Mendel said.
Speaking to AFP, Mendel said the retired woman, in fact, received state subsidies and needed to pay around 300-350 hryvnia a month for natural gas.