Ukraine: PM Yatsenyuk resigns, likely to be replaced by Speaker Hroysman

PM Arseny Yatsenyuk announced his resignation yesterday. At the same time, he said that his party, People’s Front, would remain part of the ruling coalition. Yatsenyuk has served as PM since February 2014. His cabinet survived a no-confidence motion last February, but President Petro Poroshenko urged him to resign, and the coalition broke up afterwards. Poroshenko said yesterday that he expected the formation of a new coalition and the nomination of a new PM on Apr 12.

Speaker Volodymyr Hroysman is likely to replace Yatsenyuk, according to preliminary agreements reached in parliament and reportedly approved by Poroshenko. The new coalition will most probably consist of the senior members of the old coalition, the Poroshenko bloc and People’s Front, plus several independents. It is unlikely to be strong, given its numerical weakness and the rivalry between Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk. However, if parliament swiftly approves a replacement to Yatsenyuk, Ukraine will for the time being avoid early elections.

Unlike Yatsenyuk, Hroysman, 38, is not an independent political figure. He has been a member of Poroshenko’s team for many years. Hroysman is not as experienced politician as Yatsenyuk either. In 2006-2014, Hroysman served as the mayor of the central Ukrainian town of Vinnitsa; in February 2014, he became a deputy PM; and in November 2014, he was elected as speaker of the unicameral parliament. If Hroysman replaces Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko, who apparently prefers to govern in a top-down fashion, will strengthen his grip on power, which will be a risk to Ukraine’s weak democratic institutions.

It is widely expected that People’s Front people, including the controversial Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, will maintain their posts in the cabinet after Yatsenyuk’s departure. Natalie Jaresko may be replaced with former Slovak FinMin Ivan Miklos as FinMin. During Poroshenko’s recent visit to Washington, the US did not object against Yatsenyuk’s departure, according to sources cited by zn.ua. At the same time, they said that US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland advised that Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn should be ousted, as his actions lacked transparency.

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