Ze­len­skiy’s top ap­point­ments,


Just like he promised, Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy didn’t re­veal any nom­i­na­tions for top posts in his ad­min­is­tra­tion up un­til his in­au­gu­ra­tion on May 20. Then, in the fol­low­ing days, he an­nounced a num­ber of ap­point­ments.

So far the pres­i­dent has ap­pointed the chief of staff, his deputies, aides to the pres­i­dent, as well as the pres­i­den­tial rep­re­sen­ta­tives in par­lia­ment and the Cabi­net of Min­is­ters:

An­driy Bo­hdan, chief of staff

Bo­hdan, 42, a lawyer for high-pro­file clients like the no­to­ri­ous oli­garch Ihor Kolo­moisky, is a friend of Ze­len­skiy. He played a ma­jor role in Ze­len­skiy’s cam­paign and was ap­pointed the head of the pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion on May 21. The de­ci­sion drew crit­i­cism, both due to Bo­hdan’s con­nec­tions to Kolo­moisky and the ap­par­ent il­le­gal­ity of the ap­point­ment. Un­der the lus­tra­tion law of 2014, Bo­hdan is banned from oc­cu­py­ing pub­lic of­fice -- and that in­cludes chief of staff. (see story on page 16)

Ser­hiy Trofi­mov, first deputy chief of staff

Trofi­mov, has been a part of Ze­len­skiy’s Kvar­tal 95 pro­duc­tion stu­dio since 2005, serv­ing as the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the stu­dio prior to as­sum­ing the role of first deputy head of the pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion on May 21.

In his new role, Trofi­mov will as­sist Bo­hdan in over­see­ing the work of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, ap­point­ing ju­nior staff mem­bers, su­per­vis­ing the work of pres­i­den­tial rep­re­sen­ta­tives in key gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, and help­ing to im­ple­ment pres­i­den­tial de­crees.

Yuriy Kostyuk, deputy chief of staff

On May 21, Kostyuk was named one of the three deputy heads of the pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion. Kostyuk worked as a screen­writer for Ze­len­skiy’s Kvar­tal 95 pro­duc­tion stu­dio un­der Trofi­mov. Kostyuk’s ex­act role in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion has yet to be de­ter­mined, as the scope of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for deputy heads will be set by Bo­hdan.

Deputy heads usu­ally over­see the work of mul­ti­ple de­part­ments of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing the de­part­ments of eco­nomic and so­cial pol­icy, for­eign and in­ter­nal af­fairs, and hu­man re­sources. They also man­age day-to-day op­er­a­tions.

Rus­lan Rya­boshabka, deputy chief of staff

Out of all the deputies, Rya­boshabka, 42, has the most ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions.

Rya­boshapka worked in the Min­istry of Jus­tice be­tween 1998 and 2010, head­ing de­part­ments that mainly fo­cused on ju­di­cial re­form and anti-cor­rup­tion poli­cies. Dur­ing this time he led Ukraine’s del­e­ga­tion to the Coun­cil of Europe’s anti-cor­rup­tion mon­i­tor­ing body, called GRECO.

Dur­ing the rule of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, Rya­boshapka headed the Cabi­net of Min­is­ter’s anti-cor­rup­tion bu­reau and later served as deputy head of the ju­di­cial de­part­ment of the gov­ern­ment’s sec­re­tar­iat.

After briefly work­ing for Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional Ukraine, a non-gov­ern­men­tal anti-cor­rup­tion watch­dog, Rya­boshapka re­turned to gov­ern­ment work, tak­ing a job at the newly cre­ated Na­tional Agency for Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion. After a con­flict with NAPC’s head, Rya­boshapka re­signed, crit­i­ciz­ing the agency as fail­ing and call­ing for it to be re­launched.

Kyrylo Ty­moshenko, deputy chief of staff

Ty­moshenko was ap­pointed deputy chief of staff to­gether with Kostyuk and Rya­boshapka. Ty­moshenko is the founder of the Good Me­dia pro­duc­tion stu­dio, which filmed Ze­len­skiy’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign videos, in­clud­ing the most fa­mous one in which Ze­len­skiy chal­lenged then-Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko to a de­bate at Kyiv’s Olimpiyski­y Sta­dium. Good Me­dia also pro­duced pro­mo­tional videos for other politi­cians, in­clud­ing a pseudo-doc­u­men­tary film about Petro Poroshenko’s close ally, law­maker Ihor Kononenko.

Ty­moshenko’s fo­cus in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion is yet to be an­nounced.

Vadym Prys­taiko, deputy chief of staff

Prys­taiko, 49, was ap­pointed as a deputy chief of staff on May 22, after Olena Zerkal — who was ap­pointed with Kostyuk, Rya­boshapka and Ty­moshenko — de­clined the job. Zerkal said she wanted to re­main in the For­eign Min­istry, where she has been a deputy min­is­ter fo­cus­ing on Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion since 2014. Zerkal wrote on Face­book that she was plan­ning to con­tinue her work in the min­istry. She has ac­com­pa­nied Ze­len­skiy dur­ing his meet­ings with for­eign del­e­ga­tions.

Prys­taiko, like Zerkal, is a diplo­mat, serv­ing the coun­try in this role since 1994. He worked as a deputy for­eign min­is­ter from 2014 un­til 2017, when he be­came Ukraine’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive to NATO. Prior to that, Prys­taiko served as the Ukrainian am­bas­sador to Canada from 2012 to 2014.

The most likely out­come is that Prys­taiko will fo­cus on for­eign af­fairs dur­ing his ten­ure as deputy head of the pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ser­hiy She­fir, first pres­i­den­tial aide

She­fir, 54, was ap­pointed as Ze­len­skiy’s first aide on May 21. Among the pri­mary tasks of the first aide will be as­sist­ing the pres­i­dent in day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties, help­ing or­ga­nize meet­ings and as­sist­ing the pres­i­dent in other ad­min­is­tra­tive work.

In a re­cent in­ter­view with The Ba­bel, a news web­site co-owned by Kolo­moisky, She­fir said that his pri­mary task would be to keep Ze­len­skiy “hu­mane” when he be­comes a politi­cian. In the same in­ter­view, he did not pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on his fu­ture role in the pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion. Jour­nal­ists pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered She­fir to be one of the lead­ing can­di­dates to be­come the head of the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

She­fir has been a long-time busi­ness part­ner and friend of Ze­len­skiy. Their re­la­tion­ship started in the mid-90s when She­fir and his brother ap­proached Ze­len­skiy and formed a sketch com­edy team to com­pete in a Rus­sia- based TV show called KVN. The three have been busi­ness part­ners ever since, with the She­fir broth­ers co-found­ing Kvar­tal 95 along­side Ze­len­skiy.

An­driy Yer­mak, pres­i­den­tial aide

Be­fore Yer­mak was ap­pointed an aide to the pres­i­dent on May 22, he worked as a lawyer spe­cial­iz­ing in copy­rights for the past 20 years. He rep­re­sented mul­ti­ple me­dia com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing the In­ter tele­vi­sion chan­nel, and worked with Ze­len­skiy’s Kvar­tal 95.

Yer­mak founded Gar­net In­ter­na­tional Me­dia Group, which pro­duces Ukrainian movies and TV shows.

He served as an aide to wrestler and law­maker El­brus Tedeyev be­tween 2006 and 2014. Tedeyev won an Olympic gold medal in 2004 and later be­came a law­maker from the Party of Re­gions, led by ousted Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych.

Mykhailo Fe­dorov, ad­vi­sor-at­large to the pres­i­dent

Be­fore as­sum­ing the role of pres­i­den­tial ad­vi­sor-at-large on May 22, Fe­dorov was chief dig­i­tal strate­gist dur­ing Ze­len­skiy’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Fe­dorov over­saw so­cial net­works – In­sta­gram, Face­book, Tele­gram and YouTube. Fe­dorov had a dig­i­tal agency prior to join­ing Ze­len­skiy’s team.

As an ad­vi­sor, Fe­dorov will be work­ing on e-gov­ern­ment, dig­i­tal­iz­ing ID cards, medicine, tax and busi­ness and sim­pli­fy­ing all bu­reau­cratic pro­ce­dures.

"We want to en­sure that all pro­ce­dures can be per­formed through phone apps. Direct democ­racy is when all de­ci­sions are made with the help of a sin­gle but­ton on the smart­phone," Fe­dorov said when he was pre­sented as a mem­ber of Ze­len­skiy’s team on April 18.

Rus­lan Ste­fanchuk, pres­i­den­tial rep­re­sen­ta­tive in par­lia­ment

Ste­fanchuk, 43, was ap­pointed as the pres­i­dent’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in par­lia­ment on May 21. Among his tasks is pro­mot­ing the pres­i­dent’s agenda in par­lia­ment by pre­sent­ing the pres­i­dent’s draft laws. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive may also ex­press the pres­i­dent’s po­si­tion on draft laws un­der­go­ing a vote in par­lia­ment.

Ste­fanchuk is a doc­tor of law and has been rel­a­tively un­known, work­ing as a pro­fes­sor in the Kh­mel­nit­sky Univer­sity of Man­age­ment and Law. In a com­ment to the Hro­madske news web­site, Ste­fanchuk said that he met Ze­len­skiy a long time ago when they both par­tic­i­pated in the com­edy com­pe­ti­tion known as KVN, pre­sum­ably in the 1990s.

On Ze­len­skiy’s cam­paign, Ste­fanchuk was the “cam­paign ide­ol­o­gist” and had been draft­ing the laws the team was pre­par­ing for par­lia­ment. One of them was a bill to change the elec­toral sys­tem, which failed in the par­lia­ment on May 22. Ste­fanchuk is also work­ing on a bill to in­tro­duce a pro­ce­dure for pres­i­den­tial im­peach­ment.

An­driy Gerus, pres­i­den­tial rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Cabi­net of Min­is­ters

Gerus, 37, was ap­pointed as the pres­i­dent’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Cabi­net of Min­is­ters on May 22. Gerus told the Kyiv Post that his role will be en­sur­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the pres­i­dent and the gov­ern­ment.

Gerus is an en­ergy ex­pert and an out­spo­ken critic of Rot­ter­dam+, a no­to­ri­ous scheme that sets high tar­iffs for util­i­ties due to al­legedly high coal prices. The heat­ing and elec­tric­ity sup­ply com­pa­nies owned by oli­garch Ri­nat Akhme­tov ben­e­fit from it.

Prior to be­com­ing pres­i­den­tial rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Gerus briefly served as a mem­ber of the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for State Reg­u­la­tion of En­ergy and Pub­lic Util­i­ties from 2014 to 2015. He also worked at Con­corde Cap­i­tal, a Ukrainian in­vest­ment firm, both prior to and after his ten­ure in the en­ergy com­mis­sion.

He also serves as the head of the As­so­ci­a­tion of En­ergy Con­sumers, which unites com­pa­nies that heav­ily de­pend on the prices of elec­tric­ity. He must now quit this job.

Gerus told the Kyiv Post that he will con­tinue to pro­mote his en­ergy agenda, in­clud­ing post­pon­ing the en­ergy mar­ket re­form. That re­form would lib­er­al­ize the mar­ket and al­low con­sumers to choose from whom to buy elec­tric­ity. How­ever, it is of­ten crit­i­cized as poorly planned and could po­ten­tially cause house­hold en­ergy prices to in­crease sub­stan­tially. Gerus wants to de­lay the re­form by a year.

Rus­lan Khom­chak, chief of gen­eral staff of the Armed Forces

Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Khom­chak, 51, was ap­pointed as the new chief of gen­eral staff of the Armed Forces on May 21. (see pro­file on page 18)

Ivan Bakanov, first deputy head of Ukraine’s Se­cu­rity Ser­vice

Bakanov, 45, was ap­pointed as the first deputy head of Ukraine’s Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (SBU) on May 21, where he is now in charge of anti-cor­rup­tion. Bakanov is a child­hood friend of Ze­len­skiy.

Bakanov had been the head of Ze­len­skiy’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and the newly cre­ated Sluga Nar­odu (Ser­vant of the Peo­ple) po­lit­i­cal party, named after the tele­vi­sion show in which Ze­len­skiy por­trays a school teacher who is elected pres­i­dent.

Prior to his po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, Bakanov was the head lawyer of Kvar­tal 95. Ac­cord­ing to Schemes, an in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism unit of Ra­dio Free Europe/Ra­dio Lib­erty, Bakanov trav­eled with Ze­len­skiy to Tel-Aviv shortly be­fore the cam­paign started, where the two al­legedly met with oli­garch Kolo­moisky, a busi­ness part­ner of Ze­len­skiy.

Bakanov has never been in pub­lic ser­vice and has no known ex­pe­ri­ence re­lated to se­cu­rity. ■

Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy (C) ex­its Mariyin­sky Palace, the of­fi­cial pres­i­den­tial res­i­dence, after his in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony in Kyiv, on May 20, 2019. (Cour­tesy of pres­i­dent press ser­vice)

Rus­lan Ste­fanchuk (sec­ond from right), who was ap­pointed rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy in par­lia­ment on May 21, at­tends an emer­gency par­lia­men­tary ses­sion on May 22, 2019. (Kostyan­tyn Ch­er­nichkin)

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