Volodymyr Troyssman as the new Prime Minister of Ukraine


On 14th April Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his government, electing former Council Speaker Volodymyr Hroysman as Prime Minister. His candidacy, put forward by a two-party coalition of Petro Poroshenko's pro-presidential Bloc and Yatsenyuk's Popular Front, was supported by 257 deputies (against 226 required). The oligarchic factions Revival and Will of the Nation, as well as non-faction deputies, also voted in favor of the new prime minister. The Verkhovna Rada voted on a single resolution containing three points: accepting Yatsenyuk's resignation, rescinding the February 16 resolution on the negative assessment of his government's report, and electing Hroysman as the new prime minister. This surprising resolution was most likely the condition under which Yatsenyuk resigned.

There have been significant changes in the composition of the government. All deputy prime ministers have been replaced, also there are many new persons in ministerial positions. Stepan Kubiv (BPP, former Head of the National Bank of Ukraine, earlier for eight years President of Kredobank, a member of PKO BP group) became First Deputy Prime Minister. Ministers appointed on the recommendation of the President (defence minister Stepan Połtorak and foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin) remain in their positions. The new government was supported by 239 deputies.
The new chairman of the Verkhovna Rada is the former first deputy, Andriy Parubiy (People's Front), and the new first deputy is Iryna Herashchenko (Poroshenko Bloc).
- The formation of a new coalition and government proved more difficult than anticipated, and in the course of these negotiations President Petro Poroshenko even threatened an early dissolution of parliament, which would have resulted in elections in mid-June. While an agreement on the balance of influence in the new cabinet between Petro Poroshenko's Bloc and Yatsenyuk's People's Front party was reached fairly quickly, an unexpected obstacle was the dispute between Poroshenko and Hroysman, who did not want the deputy head of the Presidential Administration, Vitaliy Kovalchuk, in the government, and also wanted to fill several ministries with his own associates. Eventually Hrojsman pushed through his demands. This dispute is not the beginning of a conflict between the two politicians, but a testimony of Hroysman's efforts to strengthen his position as an autonomous partner and not just a helpless executor of the president's expectations.
- The assumption of the prime minister's portfolio by Hroysman, a close associate of Poroshenko, marks the de facto assumption of all political responsibility for the state by the president. However, support for the new government is fragile. Only 206 of the 227 MPs in the two-party coalition voted in favour of Hroyssman's appointment; a group of MPs who are formally part of the presidential faction and who are clearly pro-European and anti-corruption slogans (including Mustafa Nayem and Serhiy Leshchenko) are particularly hostile towards the new prime minister. They believe that Hroysman is too dependent on the president, which bodes ill for the reform process.
- The new prime minister and the government won a vote of confidence thanks to the support of the oligarchic factions and non-faction deputies formally in opposition, most of them associated with Viktor Yanukovych before the revolution. They will be the main source of votes for the de facto minority coalition. This will mean that Poroshenko will have to make concessions to their business interests, which bodes ill for the reform process. Therefore it can be expected that the influence of oligarchic groups on the state will not diminish, but may even increase. The course of the debate indicates that the Radical Party and Batkivshchyna will be in strong opposition to the new government, counting on early parliamentary elections, while the self-help of the mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadov may support it in some votes.
- The government is the fruit of a compromise: it includes both close associates of Yatsenyuk (Arsen Avakov as minister of internal affairs, Pavlo Petrenko as minister of justice) and Petro Poroshenko (Yuri Stec as minister of information policy). Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who was highly rated by Western institutions and was in conflict with Hroysman, left the government. Her post was taken by Aleksandr Daniluk, previously deputy head of the Presidential Administration.
- Ending the government crisis does not remove its roots. It is unlikely that the process of reforming the country will materially accelerate and the level of legislative work will improve significantly. However, the prospect of parliamentary elections in the autumn has been dismissed. On the other hand, if the parliament is again paralyzed, the expectation and demand that early presidential elections should be held together with the early parliamentary elections will be much stronger than before.

Biography of Volodymyr Hroysman, Prime Minister of Ukraine

Volodymyr Hroysman was born on January 20, 1978 in Vinnitsa to a Jewish family that had settled in the city for six generations. His father, Boris (born in 1946) was an engineer, worked at the local radio-electronic plant, and from 1990 was an entrepreneur; his mother was a teacher (no further details are available, she probably died early). Boris Hrojsman is still an entrepreneur, although he lives mainly in Israel.

Volodymyr Hrojsman began working before high school, at the age of fourteen, as a locksmith in his father's company. Two years later he joined the management of the company Junost', which controls the largest bazaar in the city, also owned by Boris Hrojsman. He worked in various companies owned by his father until 2005, when he quit the business. He owned or co-owned eight enterprises of local importance (including a bazaar, a cement factory and an asphalt plant). After 2005, they are controlled by members of his family (mainly his father and possibly his wife and brother). Hrojsman's claim that he has not been involved in business activities since becoming mayor seems credible (it is not publicly contested), but his family may have influenced his decisions.

In 2003 he graduated from the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (private university), in 2010 - from the National Academy of State Management under the President of Ukraine.

In 2002-2005 a city councilor of Vinnitsa, then acting mayor, and from 2006-2014 mayor of Vinnitsa. In this position, he carried out many activities to improve the functioning of the city, financed, inter alia, thanks to international cooperation (government of Switzerland). Under his leadership Vinnitsa has gained a reputation as one of the best managed and most citizen-friendly cities in Ukraine. Running for re-election in 2010, he garnered 78% votes; at the time, he was patron of the local fringe party organization Conscience of Ukraine. He later founded the Vinnitsa European Strategy party, which won the city's municipal elections in 2015. As mayor, he won the trust of the current President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, who owns a confectionery factory in Vinnitsa. Since 2010, he has been one of the vice-presidents of the Union of Cities and Municipalities of Ukraine and a consistent promoter of increasing the independence of municipal self-government.

In February 2014, probably on Poroshenko's initiative, he was appointed First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development in Arseniy Yatsenyuk's government. His duties also included "crisis" activities (he headed the state commission for the investigation of the crash of Boeing 777 in Donbass in July 2014). As Deputy Prime Minister, he initiated a number of measures aimed at streamlining the activities of the state and decentralizing its management. He was also the main representative of President Poroshenko in the government. At that time, he joined the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

In October 2014, he won a parliamentary seat on Petro Poroshenko's Bloc list and - rather unexpectedly, since he was considered a candidate to succeed Yatsenyuk - stepped down from the government to assume the leadership of parliament on November 27, 2014. In this position, too, he was primarily an executor of the will of the head of state.
He openly declares his Jewish nationality, but some of his statements indicate that he is not religious. His wife, Olena, is Ukrainian. The Hrojsmen have three children, Yulia (studying law in London in 2014), Christina (a high school senior in 2014), and David (born 2011).

Hroysman's asset declarations show that he owns several properties in Vinnitsa, generating an annual income of 1.4 million hryvnias (about 48,000 euros), while his wife also earns an income of 1.2-1.4 million hryvnias (about 41-48,000 euros) from her business.

In 2011 he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

text: Center for Eastern Studies



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