Zelensky administration employs more Yanukovych-era officials

31 January 2020

The Zelensky administration has appointed more officials of the administration of former President Yanukovych to high-ranking government posts, despite the lustration law forbidding their return to office until 2024, according to the Jan. 30 broadcast of the Skhemy television news program. These officials include Serhiy Kamyshev, who was appointed in December as Ukrainian ambassador to China, and Inna Yemelianova, who was appointed as the deputy head of a working group on developing legislation on organizing the judiciary and implementing justice. On Jan. 20, State Bureau of Investigations Acting Director Iryna Venediktova appointed as one of her deputies Oleksandr Babikov, who served as a defense attorney at several court hearings for former President Yanukovych related to EuroMaidan crimes. Appeals against Babikov’s appointment have been filed.


Zenon Zawada: Faced with a lack of experienced officials (partly owing to its wholesale removal of Poroshenko-era officials), the Zelensky administration has resorted to recruiting Yanukovych-era officials since its very first months. It’s natural that among them are those officials that President’s Office Head Andriy Bohdan has a positive personal experience in working with. And many of these officials also served in the Poroshenko administration (like Ruslan Demchenko and Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine’s recently appointed ambassador to the U.S.). These personnel decisions reflect the Zelensky administration’s overall lack of consistency in policy and strategy, largely resorting to pragmatic decisions aimed at short-term gains. Though recruiting Yanukovych-era officials won’t offend southeastern Ukrainians (the president’s core electorate), other recent policies do, further reflecting this inconsistency.


In this strictly pragmatic (and largely inconsistent) approach to politics, the Zelensky administration is not only abandoning any lustration requirements. It has also decided to avoid seriously dealing with any of the messes that prior administrations failed to address. It won’t be prosecuting any of the big unresolved crimes, including the EuroMaidan murders, the murder of journalist Pavel Sheremet, the corruption of Yanukovych-era officials and the alleged state treason by various high-ranking officials. In this spirit, we can also expect a pragmatic approach to resolve the war in Donbas.

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