Ukraine Update #58: Ukraine's Parliament approves the new government; Jewish parliamentarian appointed as speaker of the Rada 

WASHINGTON, D.C. December 3, 2014

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Ukraine Update #58


The Verkhovna Rada approved a new government yesterday, after more than a month of negotiations among the five parties that gained parliamentary representation in October's elections.


Arseniy Yatsenyuk will continue as Prime Minister. The Rada also confirmed reappointments of the Defense, Foreign, and Interior Ministers (please refer to the box below for the complete list of Cabinet appointments.)


In a historic development, Volodymyr Groysman, a Jewish member of Parliament from President Petro Poroshenko's Bloc, was confirmed as speaker of the parliament. He had previously served as Mayor of Vinnytsia and Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine.


In an unusual move, the new appointments included three foreigners: Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, a former U.S. diplomat, Lithuanian-born Aivaras Abromavicius, who will serve as Economy Minister, and Alexander Kvitashvili, a Georgian native, who was confirmed as the new Health Minister.


Deputies of the Opposition Bloc, the party most closely associated with ousted President Yanukovych, harshly criticized the decision to include foreigners in the cabinet. In an address to the Rada, President Poroshenko said that the country needs foreign expertise. Some analysts have also speculated that Poroshenko's inclusion of foreigners in the new government is motivated by popular distrust of Ukrainian politicians, who are widely viewed as corrupt and ineffective.


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden welcomed the formation of a new Ukrainian government, calling it a crucial step in "the difficult but necessary process of implementing reforms and delivering results."


The new government will need to act swiftly. Ukraine continues to slide into deeper economic depression, and discontent is growing in Donbas over the government's decision to stop funding public services in the region, including schools and hospitals.


Meanwhile, unrest in Eastern Ukraine continues. As pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government reaffirmed their commitment to a ceasefire during talks yesterday in Luhansk, fighting broke out around the Donetsk airport. Ukrainian authorities said that Russian special forces were involved in this latest outbreak of violence.


In a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday, NATO condemned Russia for its "deliberate destabilization" of Ukraine. NATO also pledged to continue to support Ukraine, including helping to upgrade Ukraine's military defense, communications, logistics, and medical rehabilitation for wounded soldiers.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from the meeting in Brussels, expressed his support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, and his commitment to maintaining economic pressure on Russia. Secretary Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov tomorrow in Basel, Switzerland, to discuss Ukraine and other issues of importance to bilateral relations.


The Jewish communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are struggling to support their needy and elderly community members. The Luhansk Jewish community reported that electricity outages have affected services and community programs. Last week, the synagogue received a power generator, purchased with the financial help of a local rabbi, and for the first time in many weeks Shabbat services were held in a lit prayer hall.


Jewish representatives from Donetsk said that the community as well as the general population is struggling to survive in the war-torn region. Residents of rebel-controlled areas now need to travel to government-controlled regions to receive state salaries and pensions. They said that the infrastructure and industry in Donbas have been almost completely destroyed, and that recovery might take years or decades.


Kharkiv Jewish community representatives reported continued growth in emigration. While the Kharkiv region has not been subject to prolonged armed conflict, several incidents have shaken the city in recent weeks, including a bomb explosion yesterday. Residents are concerned that these incidents are orchestrated by pro-Russian supporters trying to destabilize the region.


Potentially exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, one of the reactors of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant was shut down last week, intensifying Ukraine's energy shortage.


As always, NCSEJ will continue to monitor the situation and provide you with timely and critical updates.



Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers (as of 12/3/2014)


Prime Minister

Interior Minister

Justice Minister

Defense Minister

Finance Minister

Economy Minister

Foreign Minister

Minister of Social Policy

Infrastructure Minister

Energy Minister

Health Minister

Agrarian Minister

Minister of Ecology

Minister of Sports and Family Affairs

Minister of Information

Minister of Infrastructure

Minister of Cabinet of Ministers

Deputy Prime Minister for Cultural Affairs

Deputy Prime Minister for Decentralization

Deputy Prime Minister for transportation industry

Arseniy Yatsenyuk

Arsen Avakov

Pavlo Petrenko

Stepan Poltorak

Natalie Jaresko

Aivaras Abromavicius

Pavlo Klimkin

Pavlo Rozenko

Andriy Pyvovarsky

Volodymyr Demchyshyn

Alexander Kvitashvili

Oleksiy Pavlenko

Ihor Shevchenko


Ihor Zhdanov

Yuriy Stets

Andriy Pyvovarsky


Hanna Onyshchenko


Vyacheslav Kyrylenko


Hennadiy Zubko


Valeriy Voshchevsky

People's Front Party

People's Front Party

People's Front Party





Petro Poroshenko's Bloc





Batkivshchyna Party


Batkivshchyna Party

Petro Poroshenko's Bloc



People's Front Party


People's Front Party




Radical Party

Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations. 
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