Foreign Policy: Ukraine’s Former Prime Minister on Dirty Politics, Populist ‘Bullshit,’ and Life After ‘Political Suicide’
After popular protests ousted Russia-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was named the country’s acting prime minister — a job he called “political suicide” at the time.
It’s been a tumultuous two years since then: Less than a month after his appointment, the Kremlin annexed Crimea, and in April 2014, war broke out in eastern Ukraine between Russia-backed separatists and Kiev. By late 2015, pressure against Yatsenyuk and the slow pace of reforms began to boil over, made manifest when a lawmaker tried to physically lift him by the waist and groin from his podium in the Ukrainian parliament, sparking a brawl in the legislature. In February, Yatsenyuk narrowly survived a no-confidence vote brought against him by members of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s parliamentary faction, sparking a tense political crisis in the country. In April, the pro-Western leader resigned as prime minister.
But Yatsenyuk — tall, bald, and outspoken — still views his shaky tenure as a success. In an interview with Foreign Policy in Washington last week, Yatsenyuk defended his track record on reform, expressed frustration over his high-profile fallout with Poroshenko, and lamented the rise of populist politics in Ukraine.
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