Meet the 4 Lead Candidates to Become Ukraine Prime Minister
8 August, 2019
David Arakhamia, the future parliamentary head of the Servant of the People party and number four on the party list, unveiled a list of candidates for the post of Prime Minister of Ukraine. Hromadske collected short bios on key candidates.

Yuriy Vitrenko (42 years old) 

Photo: Inna Sokolovska / Unian

Yuriy Vitrenko, the Director of Business Development at national oil and gas company Naftogaz, is responsible for litigating against Russian energy giant Gazprom, in particular, collecting debt from the Russian gas monopoly, according to a decision by the Stockholm arbitration. Gazprom’s current debt to Naftogaz exceeds $2.8 billion. In order to pay off the debt, Naftogaz is planning to confiscate Gazprom's assets in Europe and the USA. 

Born into a family of economists, Vitrenko grew up in Kyiv. His mother, Nataliya Vitrenko, is the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine. She ran for president twice and was an MP in both the second and third convocation of parliament. 

After the divorce of his parents in 1991, Yuriy Vitrenko lived with his father.

He graduated from the Kyiv National Economic University with a major in international economics. Further he finished an MBA at INSEAD, an international business school. 

Since an early age, Vitrenko was acqainted with finance. At the age of 14, he completed an internship as an assistant accountant at Ukrinbank. Later on, from 1998 to 2002, Vitrenko worked at the international audit company PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

His work at Naftogaz began in 2002, working together with Andriy Kobolyev, the current head of Naftogaz. As an assistant to the head of the board, Vitrenko developed the company’s strategy, but in 2005 he quit. He explained his decision with the biased attitude of the then leadership of the state to the surname "Vitrenko".

In 2006-2007, Vitrenko once again briefly returned to Naftogaz, where he was engaged in restructuring the company’s debts. He worked as a freelance advisor to the company’s management from 2008 to 2014. Together with Kobolyev, he founded the investment company AYA Capital and worked as its CEO. 

After the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, Vitrenko once again returned to Naftogaz and became a full member of Kobolyev's team, which was engaged in reforming the company. Since 2014, he was appointed as the Director of Business Development at Naftogaz and later focused his attention on the legal red tape associated with Russian Gazprom. 

Andriy Kobolyev (40 years old)

Photo: Vladyslav Musiyenko / Unian

Head of the Board of Naftogaz since March 2014. He formed a team, which successfully insisted on reviewing the gas supply and transit contracts with Gazprom. Additionally, he won the Stockholm Arbitration during the lawsuit against a $4,6 billion dollar Russian company (of which Gazprom now owes more than 2.8 billion). Kobolyev also carried out reforms in Naftogaz and the corporatization of the company. 

Born into a family of scientists in Kyiv, Kobolyev graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, with an “International Economic Relations” specialization. 

Between 1999 and 2002, he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Kobolyev began his career at Naftogaz in 2002, along with Yuriy Vitrenko. Initially, he worked as one of the company’s chief specialists. By 2010, he had worked his way up the ladder to a position of advisor to the head of the Naftogaz board. 

Together with Yuriy Vitrenko, he founded the investment banking company AYA Capital in 2010, after which he quit Naftogaz. 

After the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, Kobolyev was appointed to lead the board of Naftogaz. His time as head of the board is widely associated with a misunderstanding with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Groysman, who several times indicated his desire to fire Kobolyev for not following government decisions.

Additionally, Kobolyev was criticized for the $46 million dollar bonus issued to him and several other of Naftogaz’s top managers from Naftogaz’s supervisory board. Subsequently, due to the criticism, Kobolyev refused the paycheck by Naftogaz and transferred all funds to charitable organizations. 

At the end of 2018, misunderstandings began between Kobolyev and Vitrenko. He himself calls the conflict with Vitrenko one of his largest defeats as the head of Naftogaz. At the same time, he notes that the essence of the conflict lies exclusively in disagreement in their views about the practicalities of Naftogaz activities. 

Oleksiy Honcharuk (35 years old)

Deputy Head of the Office of the President as of May 28, 2019. In President Zelenskyy’s team, Honcharuk is responsible for economic issues and economic policy -- despite studying law. 

Born in the Chernihiv region, he graduated from the Interregional Academy of Personal Management with a specialization in law and also studied at the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Ukraine. He received a PhD in law. He also graduated from the Aspen Institute program at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. 

Honcharuk worked as a lawyer at the Gorodyansky food product plant. Between 2005 and 2008 he worked as a lawyer at PRIOR-invest. From 2006 on, he headed the legal department of the investment company. 

In 2008 he founded the Constructive Lawyers law firm, which specializes in real estate and construction. Furthermore, in 2009 he became the head of the Association for Assistance to Affected Investors, which helps defrauded investors who did not receive their property from developers. 

In 2014, he ran for parliament as a candidate of Syla Liudey ("Power of People") party. Although he was first on the party list, Power of People did not meet the minimum threshold to get into parliament. Nonetheless, he worked in government: first as an advisor to the Minister of Ecology, and then as an advisor to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. Since 2015, he headed the Office of Effective Regulation, which develops and implements a system of state regulations in order to improve the business climate. 

Vladyslav Rashkovan (41 years old)

Photo: CFO –°lub Ukraine

Ukraine's Deputy Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund. Previously, Rashkovan was responsible for reform implementation at the National Bank of Ukraine. 

Born in Odesa, he graduated from the Odesa State Economic University with a specialization in finance. After that, he went to a graduate school and studied the effectiveness of bank mergers, He completed an internship at the University of Genoa and at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. 

In 2006 he began his banking career at UniCredit Bank. Subsequently, he headed one of the departments that was involved in the merger that resulted in the creation of Ukrostsbank. Between 2010 and 2013 he was the financial director and member of the Ukrainian UniCredit Group board. 

Since 2011, he headed the banking committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, and also became a member of the board of directors of the Kyiv School of Economic (the school that conducted the training course for young MPs from the Servant of the People Party).

After the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, he was appointed as the Director of the Department of Strategy and Reform of the National Bank of Ukraine and developed and implemented the NBU reform strategy that lasts until 2020. However, Rashkovan worked in this department for less than a year, and in November 2014 became the deputy head of the National Bank. 

In February 2017, he became the Deputy Executive Director for Ukraine at the International Monetary Fund.