Goodbye, Kyiv: What happened to Ukraine's 'foreign reformers?'

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

What happened to Valeria Gontareva, Natalie Jaresko, Eka Zguladze, Khatia Dekanoidze,Wojciech Balczun?
11:00, 13 October 2020

112 Agency

Ukrainians love to create myths about themselves. In particular, that the nation has deliberately put down roots in many parts of the planet, and not just in its specific territory. Any big names are involved in this myth, even of those persons who did not and do not recognize ties with Ukraine: from legendary Roksolana to Hollywood star Mila Kunis.

Meanwhile, we should not forget about those Ukrainians, who really come from our territories, but now they are building their lives and careers somewhere else.

However, there are some opposite cases too: a significant part of foreign "guest workers" who were engaged in Ukraine during Poroshenko’s presidency, has remained in Ukraine. For example, former Minister of Health Oleksandr Kvitashvili did not leave after his resignation, but he is still near to the healthcare system. More specifically, he heads the expert council at the parliamentary committee for the health of the nation.

Or, for example, Aivaras Abromavichus, Minister of Economy in Yatsenyuk's government. He was dismissed from the post of general director of Ukroboronprom state defense concern this Tuesday, and before that, the Lithuanian businessman had successfully lived and worked in Ukraine. Perhaps he will stay here too. But let us return to those who have gone abroad in recent years.

Oleksiy Honcharuk, United States: Forming a New Policy

After the change of government and the appointment of Denys Shmygal as PM, former head of the Cabinet of Ministers Oleksiy Honcharuk dropped out of the current news. Although it was expected that he would create his own political party and take part in the local elections. But no, he didn't.

Honcharuk reminded about himself in a different way. A couple of weeks ago, he wrote on Facebook that he was going to the United States to study and work. Later he gave an interview to Ukrainska Pravda outlet, in which he elaborated on the purpose of his voyage.

Related: How Honcharuk's government tripped up new PM Denys Shmygal?

He announced that he would work at the Atlantic Council think tank, where he will have the status of "honorary expert." But this, added Honcharuk, "is only a small part of my program here." “I have two main goals here,” he noted. “First, there will be a reboot of the president’s team in the United States. And I want to take this opportunity for a new US policy on Ukraine to appear in the United States (that is, “a new American policy on Ukraine”),” Honcharuk said.

"By my example, I want to show that there uncorrupted prime ministers do exist in Ukraine," Honcharuk said.

“Now I am personally being introduced to all the most influential people of the United States on Ukraine’s issue. These are not only people from the Atlantic Council,” he boasted. “I plan to be in the States before the inauguration of the new president. Until about the end of February.”

Related: Ukraine’s ex-PM Honcharuk joins Eurasia Center

Valeria Gontareva, UK: one book and 33 misfortunes

The former head of the National Bank is, as you know, in London. Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation made sluggish attempts to bring her to justice and initiate certain investigative actions, but gained no success. While living in exile, Gontareva’s life is full of drama and adventure. A year ago, the head of the Central Bank became a victim of an accident.

Valeria Gontareva

"I was hit by a car on Monday afternoon (August 26, 2019) at a pedestrian crossing in central London, and I am now in a hospital. The police are now investigating: is this an accident or threats have begun to materialize?" Gontareva reported to

By the threats that began to be realized, she meant personal hostility from Ihor Kolomoysky, the oligarch who, because of Gontareva (and not only), lost his brainchild - PrivatBank.

The official also suspected Kolomoysky of the fact that he stood behind the arson of her house. The outraged oligarch even sued for libel and, by the way, won this court. Petro Poroshenko paid a visit to his longtime associate after a car accident.

In the meantime, she published a book on banking reform in Ukraine. "Mission feasible: the real story of the big banking reform in Ukraine" - this is how Gontareva called her opus. The book was written and published in English in co-authorship with former head of the National Bank financial sector reform department Yevgeny Stepanyuk.

Related: Goodbye, Ukraine: Where are Ukraine's foreign officials from previous governments?

Natalie Jaresko, Puerto Rico gathered for Maidan

US citizen Jaresko arrived in Ukraine in December 2014 and received Ukrainian citizenship. After the resignation of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, she was promised the prime minister's office. But no - Jaresko resigned along with the entire cabinet of her recent boss.

Now she lives and works in the Caribbean, more specifically, in Puerto Rico, and is not going to return to Ukraine and even sells part of her real estate here. As for her previous work, the merits of Jaresko can be attributed to the fact that it was she who contributed to the establishment of cooperation with the IMF and the restructuring of our external debt.

But what is she doing in the Caribbean? There are rumors that she manages the finances of this island nation on behalf of the United States. Emissary Jaresko went there to "save the economy" of Puerto Rico after the national debt exceeded $ 70 billion and the country declared a technical default. The archipelago, controlled by the United States, has not been able to get out of a severe economic crisis for more than ten years. In March 2017, Jaresko became the Executive Director of the Financial Management and Control Board of Puerto Rico with a salary of more than half a million dollars a year.

But is her mission as feasible as that of Gontareva? It is hard to say. But the fact is that Puerto Rico is shaking with a number of anti-government protests. Their reasons are simple and very similar to Ukrainian realities: total "impoverishment."

Related: Natalie Jaresko's fusion bomb for Ukraine

Some people joke that Jaresko is sent everywhere where a "crisis" needs to be created. After resigning from the post of Minister of Finance of Ukraine in 2017, Jaresko stated in an interview that she was looking for a job. As a result, she was awarded a four-year contract in Puerto Rico. At the same time, in Kyiv, where she has a luxurious mansion in the suburb of 1260 square meters, she continues to head the public organization "Aspen Institute", which is funded by American funds. So at least informed sources report.

Eka Zguladze and Khatia Dekanoidze, Georgia: Back to the roots

Not all Georgians want to make Ukraine happy at all costs. Some people settle here so firmly that the hosts simply cannot get rid of their dear guest. But some, feeling the cry of their native land in their hearts, pack their suitcases and go home.

Take at least two Eka Zguladze and Khatia Dekanoidze. A very harmonious and lovable couple of reformers. Both came from Georgia, both were previously employed in the law enforcement system. Then they came to Ukraine and continued their work here. For some time, rumors circulated that Zguladze might become the Minister of Internal Affairs, but of course she was too tough to knock this chair out from under Arsen Avakov. In Georgia, in 2005-2012, Zguladze has been working as deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. She was offered a similar position in Ukraine.

As for Khatia Dekanoidze, in Georgia, she has been heading the Police Academy for five years, and in 2012 she served as the Minister of Education of Georgia. After arrival to Ukraine, Dekanoidze first became an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs, and then, the head of the National Police of Ukraine.

Press service of the National Police

Both of them actively developed reforms in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 2016, the ladies expressed a desire to retire. They say that the reform is complete, and there is nothing more for them to do in Ukraine. Zguladze and Dekanoizde returned to Georgia, and their traces were lost in the Ukrainian information flow.

Zguladze renounced Ukrainian citizenship after completing her mission. Dekanoidze became involved in active political activity in Georgia. And since noblesse obliges, Dekanoidze invited Georgian journalists to her place. She, as a future politician, deserves hospitality and openness.

It turned out that she lives in a three-room penthouse in the center of the Georgian capital. Apparently, work in Ukraine was paid well.

Related: Khatia Dekanoidze on reforms in Ukraine, National Police, and situation in Georgia

Wojciech Balczun, Poland: Flow, song

Balczun is perhaps the most exotic person from those who were once invited to Ukraine. Before becoming the head of Ukrzaliznytsia, Balczun was a rock musician in Poland.

But what about Ukrzaliznytsia? Balczun has been heading it since April 2016, for 1 year and 4 months, and this department literally pissed off the then profile minister Volodymyr Omelyan. In fairness, it should be noted that Balczun worked for many years in the field of infrastructure, and the music was, rather, his hobby in his free time.

Open source

But that was the case in Poland. In Ukraine, Balczun did not consider it necessary to abandon the performances of his group due to the fact that he was elected to the post. He resigned after two of his subordinates were caught on taking bribes. This happened in 2017.

And on October 1, 2019, Wojciech Balczun returned to Ukraine without political plans and ambitions. The ex-head of Ukrzaliznytsia flew to our capital as the guitarist of the Chemia group. And had a performance here.

So, we might suppose that Balczun is all right. For example, the monthly income of a member of the supervisory board of Ukrzaliznytsia, Serhiy Leshchenko, is more than 10,000 USD. So it is unlikely during Balczun’s rule, the remuneration for management personnel at this enterprise was significantly lower.


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