The formation of Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh’s cabinet of ministers is nearly complete. Only two positions remain to be filled: the deputy premier for economic reform and the minister for European integration. The latter will be a new position. The Industry Ministry, abolished under former Premier Viktor Yushchenko, will be reestablished. Premier Kinakh will thus have two ministries more than his predecessor Yushchenko.
President Leonid Kuchma selected only those whose loyalty to him personally or to the key figures in his entourage is indisputable. There would be no sense in debating whether Kinakh has had his own say in the forming of this cabinet. As long-time chairman of Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (UUIE), the organization that catapulted Kuchma into big politics, Kinakh is not expected to differ significantly with Kuchma over staffing issues. Kuchma is expected to appoint more of his people as state secretaries to oversee the work of ministries (see the Monitor, June 6). He will therefore rarely face opinions different from his own, which was often the case with Yushchenko’s cabinet. Kinakh’s new cabinet is exactly what Kuchma needs to regain control over the country after the tape scandal implicating him in serious legal violations and subsequent antipresidential protests. This docile cabinet should also assist Kuchma’s allies in the parliament elections scheduled for March 2002. While pro-Kuchma centrist parties delegated their representatives into Kinakh’s cabinet, there is no member of a left- or right-wing (nationalist) party in it.
There are almost no new faces on Kinakh’s team. Only Deputy Premier for Agriculture Leonid Kozachenko (who is believed to be close to Kuchma’s key aide, the oligarch Oleksandr Volkov) and Environment Minister Serhy Kurykin (who is the Number 2 man in the pro-Kuchma Green Party) have never served as ministers. Foreign Affairs Minister Anatoly Zlenko and the power ministers from Yushchenko’s government, who report to the president rather than the premier (Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, Interior Minister Ihor Smirnov and Emergencies Minister Vasyl Durdynets), were reappointed to serve under Kinakh. Other reappointments include Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov and Economics Minister Vasyl Rohovy, who are close to the United Social Democratic Party of oligarchs Hryhory Surkis and Viktor Medvedchuk; Agricultural Minister Ivan Kyrylenko of the pro-Kuchma Agrarian Party; and Justice Minister Syuzanna Stanik, the wife of State Television Company director Vadym Dolhanov, Kuchma’s main propaganda tool.
Oleh Dubyna, a former director of the Kryvorizhstal steelworks from Dnipropetrovsk region, was promoted from deputy to first deputy premier for industry. He will supervise energy and heavy industry. Volodymyr Semynozhenko of the Party of Regions, who served as science minister in 1996-1998, has returned to the government as deputy premier for science and culture. Semynozhenko represents the Kharkiv city industrial elite–Kuchma’s long-time allies and one of the UUIE pillars. New Industry Minister Vasyl Hureyev served in several governments under Kuchma from 1995 to 1997.
The sensational appointment was that of Valery Pustovoytenko as transport minister. Pustovoytenko served as prime minister from 1997-1999 and then as leader of the one-time “party of power,” the People’s Democratic Party. That he agreed to supervise a relatively low-key department is a clear sign of the party’s waning influence. Another political heavyweight, Serhy Tyhypko, chairman of Labor Ukraine–the party of the Dnipropetrovsk industrial elite–turned down Kinakh’s offer of the deputy premier for economic reforms post. Tyhypko, who served in this position under Pustovoytenko, said that he would prefer to concentrate on preparing his party for the Rada elections. His refusal to take a prestigious post in Kinakh’s cabinet underscores the general understanding of this cabinet as a temporary one, to last only until next year’s elections (New Channel TV, May 31; Ukrinform, June 9; UNIAN, June 11-12; see the Monitor, June 1).
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