Continuing the listing from last week, following are the Cabinet ministers approved on April 14 by the Verkhovna Rada. (The brief profiles were prepared by Kyiv correspondent Zenon Zawada.)
Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, 51: He has served for 18 months, largely responsible for managing finances and personnel rather than developing military strategy. He is currently leading a recertification process that will result in two-thirds of the ministry’s leadership being dismissed, as well as departments being cut. Monthly reports of corruption still emerge from the Defense Ministry, indicating it’s being exposed yet at the same time continuing in a time of war.
Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin, 48: He has served for nearly two years, leading the effort to challenge Russian diplomacy and well-financed information wars. His successes include galvanizing global support for holding the Russian government responsible for the attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, as well as world support for imprisoned pilot Nadiya Savchenko. His shortcomings include failing to deter this month’s Dutch referendum rejecting the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, as well as failing to convince Western leaders of the dangers of establishing de facto autonomy in the Donbas.
Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov: An active participant and sponsor of the Euro-Maidan, he took over the nation’s police force and led the biggest reforms in its history, dismissing dozens of commanders through recertification, liquidating the notoriously corrupt traffic police and in its place, introducing police patrols in the major cities with newly hired officers. They became so popular that the public in Kyiv rallied at a February protest in support of an officer who was placed under house arrest after killing a teenager in a high-speed chase. Nonetheless, critics argue that too much corruption still plagues the police force, which is still alleged to be in cahoots with Kyiv’s illegal construction industry.
Finance Minister Alex Danylyuk: After earning his M.B.A. from the Kelley School of Business at the University of Indiana, he built a career in finance in the private sector, working in London for eight years. He joined the public sector in 2010 when agreeing to serve as an economic advisor to former President Viktor Yanukovych before also becoming an advisor to President Petro Poroshenko. He said his main priority will be to renew Ukraine’s cooperation with the IMF, which was halted owing to the February corruption scandal and collapse of the coalition. After his appointment, he claimed that he hasn’t been involved in business since 2010, when he became Mr. Yanukovych’s advisor. Then on April 21, he admitted that he’s still a director of three foreign companies, which he claimed he didn’t know and said was only a formality.
Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko: An acquaintance of Arseniy Yatsenyuk from their native Chernivtsi and common alma matter Yurii Fedkovych National University, he has led reforms such as opening access to state registers of private property and real estate, imposing a moratorium on inspections of small and medium-size business and reducing the time required to register a business to a single day. In addition, he claims credit for cutting staff by 20 percent, and by 30 percent in the central office, and dismissing 47 out of 85 administrators during the ministry’s recertification process. In a unique reform, he has proposed auctioning jails in city centers to developers, requiring that they build new ones built on city outskirts with the centrally located land as their reward. Mr. Petrenko is criticized for playing a role in the lack of progress in prosecuting Yanukovych officials and preventing them from retrieving and accessing their assets.
Social Policy Minister Andriy Reva, 49: A close associate to Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, he served as his deputy mayor in Vinnytsia during his two four-year terms. Among his main responsibilities is the efficient distribution of social payments and subsidies.
Ecology and National Resources Minister Ostap Semerak, 43: He earned a master’s degree in political science from the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. He was a leading anti-corruption crusader against the Yanukovych administration before getting elected to Parliament in 2014 with the People’s Front party. He served as minister of the Cabinet of Ministers in the post-Euro-Maidan temporary government and deputy infrastructure minister in the Yatsenyuk Cabinet.
Agrarian Policy Minister Taras Kutovyi, 40: He built his career in the Renaissance and Step by Step foundations, followed by financial work in the private sector. After getting elected to Parliament in 2012 with the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), he served as the first vice-chair of the parliamentary Agrarian Policy and Land Relations Committee. He became the committee chair in December 2014 after his election with the Poroshenko Bloc.
Education Minister Lilia Hrynevych, 50: A native of Lviv, she worked as a teacher and director of local schools. She was a co-founder of the Ukrainian Center to Evaluate Education Quality, helped to develop standardized testing on the national level and helped draft the law on higher education, which ensured the autonomy of universities. She was first elected to Parliament in 2012 and appointed head of the parliamentary Science and Education Committee. She serves as an honorary senator of the Ukrainian Catholic University and supports teaching Christian ethics in schools.
Temporarily Occupied Territories and Domestically Displaced Persons Minister Vadym Chernysh, 44: A lawyer by training, he was appointed in June as the head of the State Agency to Renew the Donbas and worked closely with Vice Prime Minister Hennadii Zubko. He’s a member of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists and served as a deputy of the Kirovohrad Oblast Council between 2002 and 2010.
Energy and Coal Production Minister Ihor Nasalyk, 53: He was elected to Parliament in 2014 under the Poroshenko Bloc. Before serving as mayor of Kalush in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast between 2006 and 2014, he was a national deputy in 2002-2005, serving as head of the parliamentary Subcommittee on Oil Production and Storage. He is widely expected to fulfill Mr. Poroshenko’s will in this key position, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Volodymyr Demchyshyn.
Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelian, 37: A Lviv native, he built his career serving in numerous government ministries, with the most years spent in the Foreign Affairs Ministry. He was appointed deputy minister of infrastructure in the Yatsenyuk Cabinet. He and his family have been identified by news reports as being involved in Ukraine’s waste management business.
Culture Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk, 43: A professional actor most famous for his leading role in inspiring both Maidan protests, the Ivano-Frankivsk native was rewarded for his key role in the Euro-Maidan with the culture minister’s post in the transition government. With his return, Ukraine’s arts and culture community is hoping that Mr. Nyshchuk will provide the vision and organizational skills to promote Ukrainian art and culture abroad, which they claim Vice Prime Minister Viacheslav Kyrylenko has failed to do.
Information Policy Minister Yuriy Stets, 40: He remains the director of a ministry that is widely believed to have been created for him personally, largely because of his close ties to the president, whose wife is the godmother of his daughter. The ministry has few accomplishments, with much Russian and anti-Ukrainian propaganda entering the Ukrainian mass media and reaching the global audience. Mr. Stets submitted his resignation before recalling it in February.