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Hard Times for the New Ukrainian Government

Ukraine has a new government and prime minister. The people have perceived these new appointments ambiguously. Some Ukrainians want a full reboot of the authorities, while others understand that the new ministers must be experienced professionals as the country is now in a very difficult condition.

March 6, 2014 - Anna Kotaleichuk - Articles and Commentary

06.03.2014 Arseniy Yatsenyuk1

On February 27th the Parliament of Ukraine voted for the candidacy of Arseniy Yatsenyuk as prime minister of Ukraine and his list of new ministers. Of the 20 ministers nine are deputies, six had previously worked with Yulia Tymoshenko, three are activists of the EuroMaidan and the two remaining ones are active Maidan supporters.

Before the first list of candidates was announced to the public, Ukrainians on the square as well as in social networks were actively discussing how this transitional government should look. Although the trust in both government and opposition politicians was very low even before the EuroMaidan, this has now eroded away to zero. The people want a full restart and new faces in the government.

After so many people had been killed, the Ukrainians no longer perceive ethical compromises in politics. After three month of protests, new leaders appeared who had demonstrated their integrity, honesty and ability to organise and manage. And those people now are wanted for different positions. These are the activists of the AutoMaidan, Right Sector, the public sector and doctors. The key words are “honesty”, “clean reputation,” “new names” and “responsibility.”

On the other hand, the people understand that the new government is temporary and that the country is in a very difficult situation. “At the moment there are no good or bad candidates. There are no better ones than these. Well, they took on this role and that’s good, because it’s very difficult to rule the country in such a hard condition, almost in ruins, actually,” says Olga from Lviv.

Problems are not absent. As the state treasury is empty and Ukrainian hryvnia falls, Yatseniuk has already accused this government of “political suicide” and “kamikaze”. For now, they will need to make unpopular solutions which can keep the economy from an economic fall. It is definitely not a time for populist decisions.

The candidates for ministers in the new government were proposed by the Council of the Maidan, which consists of supporters and participants of the EuroMaidan, politicians, civil activists and journalists. On February 26th at the meeting of the Council, a list of candidates was discussed and then presented from the stage at the Independence Square in the evening. And some names were booed by people.

Thoughts about the new Ukrainian government have been divided. Some people believe that this is the best possible government for now, because it consists of public figures and many professionals with unblemished reputations. Others complain that in the new government there is a lack of people from the Maidan. For example, the leader of the Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh was widely expected to receive a position in one of the security agencies but did not get a chair.

Many claims and complaints have been made about the new Internal Minister Arsen Avakov. People on the square are outraged that none of the officials was arrested while some of them are not even hiding. And the most important fact is that the former President Viktor Yanukovych is still unpunished, and that he was able to escape to Russia.

Among the new ministers are those without a clean reputation, such as Minister of Social Policy Liudmyla Denisova, who had held the same position in the government of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2007-2010. The civil movement “CHESNO” reported that the Security Service of Ukraine had found evidence of embezzlement of UAH 60 million with the Ministry of Social Policy, headed by Denisova at that time, but prosecutors refused to open the case on learning this fact. And the new Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan was also a minister in the Tymoshenko government and was directly implicated in the signing of “gas contracts” with Russia. In addition, the new Minister of Environment Andriy Mokhnyk and Minister of Agricultural Policy Igor Shvaika have no connection to these areas and no experience, while they are members of the Svoboda party.

However, the majority of candidates are still perceived positively. The Minister of Education Serhiy Kvit, the new Minister of Economy Pavlo Sheremeta (who is the president of the Kyiv School of Economics) and the Health Minister Oleg Musiy, who was the coordinator of the medical service of the Maidan during those three months, are all held in high regard. Also, the people have responded positively to the new Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema and the young and successful Mayor of Vinnytsa Volodymyr Groisman who became a Minister of Regional Development. The permanent commander of headquarters of national resistance Andiy Parubiy was appointed as the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council.

New presidential elections are scheduled for May 25th. In addition, most of the people believe that this government has no moral right to work until 2017 as planned. Former Party of Regions deputies, who voted for the infamous laws on January 16th which have restricted the rights and freedoms of citizens, now join the majority and form a new faction. The people believe that such politicians should not be in the Verkhovna Rada, so the new parliamentary elections should be assigned on May 25th or no later than the fall of 2014.

That is why the Maidan has no plans to leave the square. The people say it is a guarantee to control this new interim government.

Other names that are highly supported by the people are deputy Lesya Orobets, Petro Poroshenko, the Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovy, the leader of the Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh, former Minister of the Interior Yuriy Lutsenko and Vitali Klitschko.

As for Yulia Tymoshenko, it is important to realise that most Ukrainian do not see her in politics anymore, either as a prime minister or as a president. “Yulia Volodymyrivna should be treated, as she is sick and she cannot walk. This rehabilitation should last at least a year. And I think that she should never return to power,” says Olga from Lviv. “I do not see her in politics anymore. I think we have a new generation now; it is necessary to give a chance for new, younger, more active and more progressive politicians. And Yulia Tymoshenko needs a little rest and to take her time with the family,” says Liudmyla from Ternopil. Meanwhile, the well-known Ukrainian journalist Sergei Leshchenko has posted on his blog that Yulia Tymoshenko should stop her political career, and this post received more than 21,000 recommends on Facebook.

Anna Kotaleichuk is a Ukrainian journalist and a New Eastern Europe contributor.

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