New faces of Ukrainian Cabinet: Who is who in government under PM Honcharuk?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Newly-elected Parliament of Ukraine has voted for the new Cabinet
13:37, 30 August 2019

Oleksiy Honcharuk

On August 29, 2019, there were two dates - the fifth anniversary of the memory of those who died in the Battle of Ilovaisk (eastern Ukraine) and opening of the first session of the Verkhovna Rada of the ninth convocation. Dmytro Razumkov, the leader of the Servant of the People party, was elected the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, 382 MPs voted “for.” Ruslan Stefanchuk, the representative of the president in parliament, has become his first deputy, 330 MPs supported his candidacy.

The third place of the parliamentary presidium was connected with an intrigue. The second vice speaker's office was supposed to belong to the representative of the opposition, preferably a woman. And it happened so. Olena Kondratiuk from Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna faction joined the “triumvirate,” 318 MPs voted for her. Office of the second vice-speaker created quite a stir: MP from former president Poroshenko’s European Solidarity faction and leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemiliov, as well as Iryna Konstantevych, the representative of the UKROP party, MP from the People’s Will group,  claimed the office. The Opposition Platform - For Life also wanted to take the office, offering Nestor Shufrych as a candidate.

Related: Ukraine's ex-Health Minister detained at Kyiv airport

Government formation


Oleksiy Honcharuk became the new Prime Minister of Ukraine. President Zelensky introduced his candidacy, and the parliament supported by a majority (290) votes. Batkivshchyna and Holos factions and, of course, the pro-presidential Servant of the People turned out to be loyal to Honcharuk.

In addition to the candidacy of the Prime Minister, the Verkhovna Rada approved two deputy prime ministers: Dmytro Kulebu and Mykhailo Fedorov. The first will be responsible for the European integration direction, and the second will combine the chair of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Digital Transformation.

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Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Dmytro Kuleba is the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe and a well-known diplomat. In June 2014, he came to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the invitation of Pavlo Klimkin, the then MFA head. He served as a special ambassador for strategic communications. Since 2016, he has been representing Ukraine in the Council of Europe. Kuleba's profile was human rights protection in occupied Crimea, countering the return of the Russian delegation to PACE, engaging the Council of Europe in implementing reforms in Ukraine.

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The background of Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice-Prime Minister of Digital Transformation, is rather modest. The 28-year-old official is the youngest official in Ukraine. He is an IT entrepreneur and founder of a digital agency. In 2014, Fedorov ran for the Verkhovna Rada from the 5.10 party but lost. Fedorov has got a lucky ticket in 2019 when he got into parliament on the list of Servant of the People. Prior to this, the future Deputy Prime Minister led the digital direction of the election campaign of Volodymyr Zelensky.

Related: Ukraine's new Cabinet: All you need to know about Minister of Finance Markarova

Now let us talk about the ministries and their heads.

Ministry of Agrarian Policy was liquidated. This was decided at a meeting of the Servant of the People faction with the participation of President Zelensky. Part of its functions will be transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development.

Arsen Avakov, Ukraine's Internal Minister
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Ministry of Internal Affairs - Arsen Avakov. The minister would just stay in his office, where he was appointed during the times of Poroshenko. Despite protests against his appointment, preceding the first meeting of the new Rada, Avakov remained his post. He managed to make Zelensky feel grateful for holding the presidential and parliamentary elections without excesses.

Related: New Prime Minister of Ukraine: Who is he?

Ministry of Economic Development - Tymofiy Milovanov. In the recent past, Milovanov was close to ex-president Petro Poroshenko. Informed sources say that Milovanov got the post of deputy head of the National Bank precisely with Poroshenko’s assistance. In 2014, Forbes included the minister in the list of 15 best economists. If such merits are true, the Ukrainian economy is in good hands.

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Ministry of Energy and Ecology - Oleksiy Orzhel. Little is known about him: he graduated from the Institute of Energy Saving and Energy Management, received a master's degree, from 2006 to 2014 he has been working in the National Regulator in the field of energy. In 2019, Orzhel appeared number 16 in the list of the Servant of the People party.

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Ministry of Community Development – Aliona Babak. She has already been an MP of the previous convocation, elected from Samopomich. During the convocation, he held the position of Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Construction, Urban Planning, Housing and Communal Services.

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Ministry of Veterans and Temporarily Occupied Territories - Oksana Kolyada. President Zelensky partially kept his word regarding this ministry: the department was not liquidated, although it was merged. Kolyada, who had previously worked as the deputy of the previous minister, has headed it. Kolyada is a reserve colonel and a participant in the hostilities. She came to the law enforcement agencies at the age of 23, and in 2003- 2015 has been working in the ranks of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Further (up to 2017 inclusively) there was a service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, where Kolyada held the post of head of the Department of Communication and Press of the Ministry of Defense.

Related: Ukraine's new Cabinet: All you need to know about Minister of Healthcare Skaletska

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Vadym Prystayko. This is the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to NATO. As he himself noted, now on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs he helps the "transition team" in conducting effective international meetings.

Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

Ministry of Infrastructure - Vladyslav Krykliy. MP from the list of Servant of the People. Before going to parliament he headed the Main Service Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (the one where they issue passports and cars, issue a driver’s license). Before this, he was an adviser to Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, as evidenced by his declaration for 2014.

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Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports - Volodymyr Borodyansky. The Verkhovna Rada has realized its intention to unite the ministries of culture, information policy and youth and sports into one ministry of humanitarian policy, headed by Volodymyr Borodyansky, a freelance adviser to the president on humanitarian issues. The new minister, a media specialist with extensive experience, has been managing the STB channel since 2004, which has been successful in raising the rating under his leadership.

Ministry of Defense - Andriy Zagorodniuk. In 2015 - 2017, he has been heading the Project Office of Reforms under the Ministry of Defense. After the office was closed, he moved away from the security forces, but in a couple of years, he joined the Zelensky team. Just a month after the inauguration, Zelensky appointed Zagorodniuk his adviser. He joined the supervisory board of Ukroboronprom state defense concern.

Ukraine's Minister of Education and Science Anna Novosad
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Ministry of Education and Science - Anna Novosad. One of the youngest ministers. Novosad is 29 years old, a political scientist. And she has been working in the ministry since 2014. From March to November 2014, she held the position of Advisor to the Minister, after which in December 2017 she headed Directorate of Strategic Planning and European Integration of the Ministry of Education and Science.

Related: Ukraine's new Cabinet: All you need to know about Minister of Foreign Affairs Prystaiko

Ukraine’s Minister of Healthcare Zoryana Chernenko
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Ministry of Health - Zoryana Skaletska (Chernenko). Despite the forecasts, acting minister Ulyana Suprun left the office. Zoryana Chernenko is an expert in the Reanimation Reform Package organization on medical reform. She is also the director of the public organization "Health Forum" and a member of the World Association of Medical Law.

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Ministry of Social Policy - Yulia Sokolovska. Sokolovskaya is the head of a health system reform component called USAID HIV Services Reform in Action. Very little is known about the new minister.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's Finance Minister
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Ministry of Finance - Oksana Markarova. Markarova began to work in the Ministry of Finance back in the days of Natalie Jaresko. Now, obviously, she has changed her political orientation, having joined the Zelensky team.

Ministry of Justice - Denys Maliuska. The new minister is the current MP from Servant of the People party (number 21). Maliuska received a law degree, and not only in Kyiv, but also in a London university. Then he founded the Business Law Firm and subsequently added publishing business to legal activities. He was once elected deputy chairman of BRDO board. This organization was also headed by Prime Minister Honcharuk.

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Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers - Dmytro Dubilet. According to one version, the current Prime Minister should be obliged to Dubillet by his appointment. That’s why Dubilet (co-founder of Monobank’s, and previously a member of the PrivatBank board) allegedly recommended Honcharuk to Andriy Bogdan, head of Zelensky’s office.

Related: Ukraine's new Cabinet: All you need to know about Minister of Economy Milovanov

First reactions

Experts noted the disappointment caused by the lack of non-standard staff moves. “In addition to Avakov, Prystayko, and Markarova, this Cabinet has all the surprises. The rest are unfamiliar people and, I am afraid, they are incompetent,” says Vadym Karasiov, director of the Institute for Global Strategies.

 The current government, he adds, plays the role of a simulator. “A lot of people appeared in the offices of the current government just because in six months they won’t be sorry to resign. People who can really apply for ministerial positions are currently chairing profile committees,” Karasiov suggests.

“The government will be technical, at least at the beginning of its work, and all the appointed ministers, except perhaps Avakov, remain in the shadow of the presidential office. And in the future, everything will depend on the ratings of the president," Ruslan Bortnyk, the director of the Ukrainian Institute of Analysis and Management, is convinced.

He expresses disappointment with the first speech of Prime Minister Honcharuk. "The prime minister’s speech is very blurred, old things sound in a new way, and we all expected from him to have a concrete plan. In the 1990s, when Leonid Kuchma came to the post of the prime minister, he presented the concrete plan on the second day," he notes.

Related: Ukraine's new Cabinet: All you need to know about Minister of Infrastructure Krykliy

“By a statement on the possibility of dissolving the Cabinet of Ministers and the Rada, the president distances himself from these institutions. He seems to say: I’m good, and you all are potential traitors, and I’ll figure it out with you... But in fact, if Zelensky recognizes himself with the new appointees as the one team, he would have to announce his own resignation, but that doesn't sound like that."

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