On 2 December 2014, the Verkhovna Rada approved a new government (Cabinet of Ministers). Representatives of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (BPP), the party of the Ukrainian president, filled the largest number of portfolios among party members. Four other parties secured ministerial posts as well. Party affiliation appears after the name of the minister in the list below.
Deputy Prime Minister: Valery VOSHCHEVSKY (Radical Party)
Although only No. 8 on the Radical Party’s list for the parliamentary elections of 2014, Voshchevsky still managed to become deputy chief of the parliamentary faction. In the government of Premier Mykola Azarov under Yanukovych, Voshchevsky was appointed head of the Ukrainian State Road Service “Ukravtodor.” However, he was fired after two months.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Utilities: Gennady ZUBKO (BPP)
Born in 1967, Zubko is a former construction industry executive and local government official from Zhytomyr. During the Yanukovych presidency, Zubko was a member of the Batkivshchyna Party of Yulia Tymoshenko. President Poroshenko appointed him First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, and he was put forward by the president for this ministerial post.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture: Vyacheslav KYRYLENKO (People’s Front)
Born in 1968, Kyrylenko has been a member of the Verkhovna Rada since 1998. He has been a leading member of the “Our Ukraine” party of former President Viktor Yushchenko, the Batkivshchyna party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and most recently co-founded the People’s Front, in September 2014.
Minister of the Cabinet: Anna ONISHCHENKO (People’s Front)
Born in 1984, at only thirty years old Onishchenko is a former deputy justice minister of Ukraine. A lawyer by training, she worked in the private law firm “A-Lex” for ten years from 2004-2014. She has also worked in the claims division of the department of legal support of “Ukrnafta,” the oil and gas extraction company whose largest private shareholder is Dnipropetrovsk Governor Ihor Kolomoysky.
Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food: Alexey PAVLENKO (Samopomich)
Born in 1977 in Uman, Cherkassy region, Pavlenko received an MBA from the Business School of the University of Nyenrode, The Netherlands (2001-2002). From 2006-2009, he served as executive director of the “Foxtrot” group of companies, which includes computer and electronics retail stores.
Minister of Internal Affairs: Arsen AVAKOV (People’s Front)
Avakov, a former member of the organizing committee for Euro 2012 in Ukraine, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, and the National Council on Interaction between Government Authorities and Local Self-Government Bodies, was born into an Armenian family in 1964 but moved with his family to Ukraine in 1966. He obtained an education in engineering in Kharkiv region, eventually entering local politics there.
He became a member of the “Our Ukraine” party of former President Viktor Yushchenko, but later withdrew to become leader of the Batkivshchyna regional organization. In October 2012, Avakov was elected into the Ukrainian parliament on the Batkivshchyna party list (number 24). This allowed Avakov to evade restrictions on his movement imposed by an Interpol warrant for “illegal transfer of property” (a warrant that the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, the Kharkiv Human Rights Group and others claimed was politically motivated), and he returned to Ukraine from house arrest in Italy in 2012. Avakov became Acting Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in February 2014, and after he described the pro-Russian separatists as “terrorists,” the Russian government requested that he be placed on Interpol’s wanted list again. On 9 July 2014, a Moscow district court arrested him in absentia. In September 2014 Avakov became a founding member of the People’s Front. Avakov has published twelve scientific papers, one monograph, and a number of essays on political and social issues.
Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources: Ihor SHEVCHENKO (Batkivshchyna)
Shevchenko worked as a lawyer from the beginning of 1990. Has has worked at the «Legis» law firm, Frishberg & Partners, and Vasyl Kysyl and Partners. He also trained at the Ukrainian Embassy in Brussels and the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine, and studied at the Academy of European Law at the European University in Italy. In 2012 he headed the Meritocratic Party of Ukraine. He is the founder of Shevchenko Asset Management.
Minister of Energy and the Coal Industry: Volodymyr DEMCHYSHYN (BPP)
A former head of the National Energy Regulatory Commission of Ukraine (NERC), Demchyshyn served as Director of Investment Banking at ICU. Prior to ICU, he served as vice president of ING Bank, as well as the Manager of the Corporate Finance Division of Ernst & Young. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Demchyshyn have an uneasy relationship. At one cabinet meeting, Yatsenyuk publicly flogged the NERC chief because of the threat of rolling blackouts, promising that if they occurred it would not only result in dismissal, but also criminal liability.
Minister of Infrastructure: Andriy PIVOVARSKY (BPP)
Pivovarsky has been the general director of the “Continuum” group of companies (‘WOG’ petrol stations, ‘COMO,’ ‘Galicia’ dairy products). He has also worked as the head of the investment banking division of the Dragon Capital investment company. During his time at the company, Pivovarsky conducted several IPOs of Ukrainian assets. These included the placement of shares Davento (development division, ‘Great Kyshenya’), Cocktail, KP Media and Clubhouse (the operator of the hotel chain). Before Dragon, Pivovarsky worked in the Moscow office of IFC, where he managed investment portfolios for Central and Eastern Europe in the amount of $100 million. Pivovarsky has a master’s degree in international business and finance from the Fletcher School of Tufts University in the United States.
Minister of Youth and Sports: Ihor ZHDANOV (Batkivshchyna)
In 1994, Zhdanov was the representative of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Central Election Commission before working in the legal department of the Presidential Administration from 1994-95. In 1995-1997 and 1999-2005 years, Zhdanov worked as Director of Political and Legal Programs of the Razumkov Center for Economic and Policy Research. From 2002, he was a freelance consultant of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on combating organized crime and corruption. In 2004, Zhdanov became a leading analyst at the campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. From 2005-2007, he was Deputy Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of “Our Ukraine.” In 2014, he was elected to the 8th convocation of the Verkhovna Rada from the “Batkivshchyna” party of Yulia Tymoshenko.
Minister of Education and Science: Serhiy KVIT (BPP)
Born in 1965 in Uzhgorod, capital of the far western Ukrainian region of Transcarpathia, Kvit began his professional career as a journalist and magazine editor, later becoming a professor of journalism at Shevchenko State University in Kyiv. In 2007, he became president of the “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” National University. He was appointed Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine in the first government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk in early 2014, and reappointed in December.
Minister of Health: Alexander KVITASHVILI (BPP)
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1970, Kvitashvili graduated from Tbilisi State University with a history degree in 1992 and obtained his MA in public management from NYU on a Muskie Fellowship in 1993. Kvitashvili has worked, at various times, for the UNDP, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and the EastWest Institute. He consulted to various international organizations in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Latvia, Greece and Ukraine on education, healthcare and social security. In 2008, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili appointed Kvitashvili as Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs, and served in that post until his resignation in 2010.
Minister of Social Policy: Pavlo ROZENKO (BPP)
Born in 1970, Rozenko worked in government in the post of Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy from 2005, and worked in a similar position during the premiership of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2008-2010. From 2010 until 2012, he was an independent expert on social policy at the Razumkov Center. Since 2012, Rozenko has been a member of the UDAR party of Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, and was elected to parliament that year. In the Verkhovna Rada he became deputy chairman of the Committee on Social Policy and Labor. In February he was offered a post in the government but refused. He again attempted to refuse this time, but was unsuccessful.
Minister of Finance: Natalie JARESKO (BPP)
Jaresko grew up in Chicago, the daughter of Ukrainians who emigrated to the United States after World War II. She obtained a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, after which she worked in the US State Department for several years as a specialist on Soviet issues. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jaresko headed the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Ukraine, and in 1995 started the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), a private equity fund to support small and medium-sized businesses. At its creation, the US government allocated $150 million to WNISEF. In 2006, Jaresko established her management company, Horizon Capital, and its first fund – the Emerging Europe Growth Fund (EEGF) – grossed $132 million. In 2008, the EEGF II fund was launched, worth $370 million. One of its successful deals was the 2013 sale of Platinum Bank, created with the active support of the fund, to several foreign companies. According to some media sources, these companies are controlled by Odessa businessman Boris Kaufman, a close associate of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s inner circle.
Minister of Justice: Pavlo PETRENKO (People’s Front)
Born in 1979, Petrenko became Minister of Justice after the Maidan uprising, during which he worked as a lawyer for both activists and protesters. Petrenko is a longtime friend of Prime Ministerv Yatsenyuk and – like the premier – hails from Chernivtsi in western Ukraine. Petrenko is particularly well known for his promises of international lawsuits against Russia on matters of Ukrainian property and assets, and the introduction of sanctions against the aggressor country.
Minister of Information: Yury STETS (BPP)
Born in 1975, Stets is a professional broadcast journalist. He began his career as a reporter for the Chernivtsi Regional State TV and Radio Company, and by age 17 was already an editor with the ICTV channel in Chernivtsi. He worked as an editor and producer for several programs and stations before being elected to the board of directors of Channel 5 in 2007. He was elected to the 6th convocation of the Verkhovna Rada in 2007 as a member of the “Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense” bloc, and became the secretary of the Committee on Freedom of Expression and Information. In 2012, he was elected to the Verkhovna Rada from the “Baktivshchyna” party.
Minister of Economic Development and Trade: Aivaras ABROMAVICIUS (BPP)
An investment banker of Lithuanian origin, Abromavicius is a former partner in the East Capital Baltic Fund, a fund management company in the Baltics that reputedly grew by 332% from 1998-2008. Along with Jaresko and Kvitashvili, Abromavicius was offered Ukrainian citizenship by a decree of President Petro Poroshenko in order to serve in the government.
Minister of Defense: Stepan POLTORAK
Born in 1965 in a village in Odessa region, Poltorak is a graduate of the Ordzhonikidze Higher Military Command Academy of the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 2003, he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on “The Pedagogical Conditions for Unit Commander Skills of Future Officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.” In March 2002, Poltorak was appointed head of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Kharkiv. On 28 February 2014, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov appointed Poltorak commander of the Internal Troops of Ukraine, and when the National Guard of Ukraine was reestablished in March 2014, Poltorak became its first commander. Poltorak was approved as defense minister in October 2014, and his candidacy was resubmitted for parliamentary approval by President Poroshenko on 2 December 2014.
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Pavlo KLIMKIN
Born in 1967 in Kursk, Russia, Klimkin graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology’s Department of Aerophysics, with a specialization in space research, applied mathematics and physics. From 1993-1997, Klimkin worked in the Department of Military Control and Disarmament of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. In 1997-2000, he was Third and Second Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany, responsible for scientific, technical and political issues. In 2002-2004, Klimkin was in charge of economic and sectoral cooperation with the EU at the European Integration Department of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. From 2004-2008, he was Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of Ukraine in the United Kingdom. From March 2008 to April 2010, Klimkin was Director of European Union Affairs at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, and served for two years as Deputy Foreign Minister from 2010-2012 before his appointment as Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany. He was appointed Foreign Minister in June 2014, and his candidacy was resubmitted by President Poroshenko for parliamentary approval in December 2014.