Ukraine's new Cabinet: Equation with many unknowns

Author : Natalia Lebed

The experts are confused, as the names of the ministers of the future government have not been voiced yet
08:45, 27 August 2019

Open source

The experts are confused, as the names of the ministers of the future government have not been voiced yet. And this is despite the fact that Zelensky’s office promised to call the name the prime minister on August 29 - at the first meeting of the newly-elected Verkhovna Rada.

"The candidatures still remain unknown. Even the Prime Minister’s name. Allegedly, there is a decision only on the Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs," Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, notes.

In this case, however, the name of a possible Minister of Defense is not unveiled (allegedly, for security reasons). In a word, we will wait for a surprise.

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Servant of the People party members complain of sabotage

Meanwhile, officials that are close to the president promise that the process of forming a government will be rapid and transparent. "Everything will be very fast. I think the new Cabinet will be formed on the first or second day of the parliamentary session. I am sure about this," Andriy Gerus, president’s representative in the Cabinet of Ministers, said.

And Andriy Bogdan, the head of the presidential office, adds that Zelensky would make a collective decision, not a one-man decision concerning the Prime Minister.

Another public comment comes from the likely leader of the Servant of the People faction David Arakhamia. According to him, the process of selecting candidates for ministerial positions is being hampered by outright sabotage by other political forces.

“I won’t give names now when I call representatives of other parties and say, can you provide your list, shortlist of normal candidates for ministers? They reply: “we want you to be responsible, we won’t give [any shortlists],” Arakhamia complained to the reporters.

Related: Oleg Petrenko to replace Ulana Suprun in new government

Leaving aside the stylistics of the elected MP, we note that the story he tells does not look very believable. “Such statements are made by people who are not involved in the personnel process. If Zelensky’s team is engaged in creating a one-party coalition, it is unlikely to offer vacancies to other factions. Ministerial offices can be offered to other political forces only if it comes to building a coalition with a junior partner,” Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, outlines.

So, Zelensky’s team is hardly ready to share ministerial offices. At least Arakhamia’s statements that the president wants to create "a technocratic government" have not convinced anyone. Otherwise, the Ze!Team would share with the leadership of parliamentary committees with other parties.

But back to the ministers. According to insider information, two "old" Cabinet representatives might remain in their office.

Healthcare acting minister and MIA head

This is primarily about MIA head Arsen Avakov. The phenomenon of the current Minister of f Internal Affairs, who has been enjoying immunity during Poroshenko’s rule and who can preserve the office under “Zelensky,” must be investigated separately. But the expert community is unanimous: Avakov’s chances of retaining his position are high.

Avakov might get a portfolio of deputy prime minister for coordination of law enforcement agencies. This will be a new office, created specifically for Avakov. Actually, Avakov’s promotion is a compromise invented for him, under the terms of which the minister must surrender without a fight and leave the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. But this option is not suitable for this ambitious politician.

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There are rumors that the process of forming the list of officials has come to a standstill due to his strong position. Avakov allegedly agrees to the get office of Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, provided that he remains the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Moreover, according to Avakov, Zelensky owes “calm” elections to him.  Hypothetically, Avakov might remain in his office, but such a concession would be harmful to Zelensky himself. Avakov’s chances are significant, but he’s not the kind of person who can add something to Zelensky’s rating.

This is representative of the old system. Is there some point of leaving him in the new government, which should break this system?" Bogdan Petrenko asks.

The second person, who supposedly has a chance to get into the new government, is acting Minister of Healthcare Uliana Suprun. Earlier it was said that Mykhailo Radutsky, MP from Servant of the People party might replace Suprun. He is the founder of the Boris medical clinic.

Related: Court lifts ban on Ukraine's Health Minister Suprun

"He has his own vision of how to implement the reform... I'm not sure (that he will be a minister), but he definitely has his own vision of how to improve the healthcare reform," Oleksandr Kornienko, the head of the Servant of the People headquarters, noted.

However, a candidate with "his own vision of healthcare reform" decisively refuses from the honor offered to him. "I have probably already said two hundred times and I repeat it again: I was not going to take the post of minister," Radutsky says. However, if not him, then, probably, someone else from Zelensky’s team could apply for this post. Why then the name of Suprun appears again?

Related: Kremlin's agent in Ukraine's Cabinet released to house arrest

It's very simple: Zelensky’s team is allegedly pressured with a demand not to fire Suprun. More specifically, this is required by the "American lobby," says Bogdan Petrenko. But Bortnik does not agree: "Suprun will not remain in her office. However, Avakov and Markarova (Minister of Finance, - ed.) have chances to stay."

Oksana Markarova is the third and so far the last "old" minister, who theoretically can migrate to the new government. “Markarova’s likelihood of staying in the Cabinet is the highest one, but there are many other people who are also discussed. I can’t unveil more details,” Arakhamia states.

Bohdan Petrenko explains: “Markarova might be an exception because she is a non-public person and does not have a negative image within the society.”

And if the current head of the Ministry of Finance can be an exception, then such officials as Andriy Reva (Minister of Social Policy), Lilia Grynevych (Minister of Education), Volodymyr Omelyan (Minister of Infrastructure), Igor Nasalyk (Minister of Energy), Yevhen Nishchuk (Minister of Culture), Pavlo Klimkin (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Stepan Poltorak (Minister of Defense), Pavlo Petrenko (Minister of Justice), will definitely lose their posts. All vice-premiers, along with Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, Pavlo Rozenko, and Stepan Kubiv, will also leave their offices.

Who are the fresh ones?

In terms of the war, Minister of Defense is one of the key offices. According to Dmytro Razumkov, the head of the party, "the Minister of Defense is different from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, because we have a war, and the people must still be protected."

Stepan Poltorak is the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. He wrote a report on dismissal from office on May 20, saying that he respects the constitutional right of the president to propose his own candidacy.

But the Verkhovna Rada failed the vote for his resignation. Consequently, only the new parliament will be able to fire Poltorak, that is in early September.

However, some versions of the new head of this office are known – 35-year-old Yulia Svitlychna, the current head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration. Svitlychna is the youngest governor and the only woman among the governors.

As for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vadim Prystayko is called among the applicants. Now Prystayko is the deputy head of the presidential office.

And although his background is quite solid (Prystayko was an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the head of Ukraine’s Mission to NATO), we should not forget about Olena Zerkal, Bogdan Petrenko believes.

Earlier Zerkal refused to become an employee of the Presidential Administration. The official explained that “she loves her job and its challenges.” In fact, in the conflict between President Zelensky and Foreign Minister Klimkin, Zerkal sided with the latter.

Related: Servant of the People ready to give four parliamentary committees to other political forces

The incident occurred due to an inconsistent response to a note sent by the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding Ukrainian sailors.

Serhiy Babak, who is considered as a possible minister of education, did not go to the confrontation with the head of state. Actually, Babak is a member of Zelensky’s team, number 11 on his party list.

Babak is a co-founder of the Ukrainian Heritage Foundation and curator of the educational direction of the Ukrainian Institute of the Future. During the election campaign, Zelensky Babak stated that Ukrainian teachers would have a $ 4,000 monthly salary.

"The society expects concrete steps on the part of the authorities, in particular, on the war in the east. There will be no special attention to the government, there will be attention to the activities of the president and parliament," Ruslan Bortnyk says. In general, Bortnyk promises that the future government will be "extravagant."





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