Ukraine Fills Outstanding Cabinet Vacancies With Acting Ministers
11 March, 2020

Following Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s shake-up of the Cabinet of Ministers, replacing most of the old guard with fresh faces, several key appointments remained unfilled. But the administration has now appointed acting ministers to fill in, especially in key posts such as Energy, Economy, and Education. 

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First up is the Ministry of Economy – previously, the ministry had the portfolio of economic development, trade, and agriculture, but after the shake-up, the government announced that economic development and trade would be separated from agriculture. While the separation hasn’t happened just yet, former minister Tymofiy Mylovanov has left the government following a few days serving as acting minister of the still-combined Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, and Agriculture.

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While Mylovanov was offered the post of Minister of Agriculture, he turned it down. His deputy, Pavlo Kukhta, a former member of the opposition Golos party headed by rock star-turned-politician Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, has been appointed in his stead. Kukhta served in the previous Poroshenko administration in various advisory roles to both the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister at the time – Volodymyr Groysman. 

Energy is another key ministry in the country, as state-owned energy company Naftogaz provides a good-sized chunk of government revenue – especially following a landmark $2.9 billion decision in favor of Naftogaz in a suit against Russian state-owned energy behemoth Gazprom. 

The new Acting Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection is now Vitaliy Shubin. Shubin, previously a director of a wind farm, also has a work history at DTEK, an energy company owned by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. He’s also previously held government roles as an energy regulator and as an employee of state-owned energy market operator Energorynok.
New acting ministers of both Education and Culture have also been announced. Replacing Anna Novosad in the Education ministry, and the youngest minister in Ukrainian history is her deputy Yuriy Polyukhovych. In addition to serving as a deputy education minister, Polyukhovych also taught classes at Ukraine’s Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, and has previously worked in universities in California and Mexico, with a specialty in history.

As for the Ministry of Culture, it has also seen its portfolio split. Formerly the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, the Ministry is undergoing a reorganization to split it into the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Svitlana Fomenko, the first deputy ministry of culture, is now Acting Minister – though while the reorganization goes on, the Ministry is still officially the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports. Despite Fomenko’s appointment, a Minister of Youth and Sports has already been named – Vadym Huttsait. Fomenko herself has worked in the Ministry of Culture since 2013. 

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This leaves only one potential vacancy – the Ministry of Agriculture, though that ministry still has not been created. Otherwise, Ukraine now has a full complement of ministers, barring any further reorganizations and permanent appointments.  

/By Romeo Kokriatski