Read short biographies of the prime minister and his deputy prime ministers.
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
A technocrat respected for his strong managerial skills, Mykola Azarov is No. 1 in the Party of Regions and a key economic adviser to President Viktor Yanukovych. Ex-President Leonid Kuchma put Azarov in charge of the State Tax Administration in 1996. Yanukovych in 2002 promoted Azarov to first deputy prime minister and later finance minister. While Azarov was in charge of state finances, governments posted high economic growth rates on the back of strong global demand for Ukrainian steel, but borrowed heavily from foreign banks to finance budget deficits. Under Azarov’s leadership, the tax administration was accused of persecuting businesses close to Ukraine’s political opposition. He denies such charges. But during the early 2000s, he opened criminal investigations into the activities of commercial banks and Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine, the gas trading company formerly headed by ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovych’s opponent for the presidential seat.
First Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Klyuev
A Donetsk native and influential politician, Andriy Klyuev and his brother Serhiy own substantial stakes in several Donetsk-based industrial companies. Andriy Klyuev worked under Yanukovych as deputy governor during the late 1990s and was put in charge of the country’s energy sector as deputy prime minister in 2006. Both Andriy and Serhiy Klyuev were re-elected to parliament in 2007.
Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov (in charge of Euro 2012 soccer championship co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland)
As deputy head of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, Borys Kolesnikov is the right hand man for Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man and a longtime Yanukovych-backer. The owner of Donetsk-based Konti confectionary and other businesses, Kolesnikov entered politics in 1999 when Yanukovych was Donetsk Oblast governor. Police in early 2005 arrested him on charges of abuse of office, extortion and making a death threat. Kolesnikov has repeatedly denied the charges, which were later dropped. He was elected to parliament on the Regions Party ticket in 2006 and 2007.
Deputy Prime Minister Victor Slauta (in charge of the agricultural sector)
The 58-year old Donetsk native studied agriculture and worked on collective farms during the Soviet era in Russia. Victor Slauta became a Communist Party official and headed large state enterprises during the 1980s and 1990s. Slauta was in charge of Donetsk Oblast’s agricultural sector when Yanukovych was governor from 1997 through 2002. He worked as agriculture minister under Yanukovych in 2004.
Deputy Prime Minister Sergiy Tigipko (in charge of economic issues)
Sergiy Tigipko headed the National Bank of Ukraine from 2002-2004 and was deputy prime minister for economic issues in 1997-2000. The 49-year old managed Viktor Yanukovych’s presidential election campaign in 2004, but left the post before the third round of voting which brought Victor Yushchenko to the presidency. Tigipko, a multimillionaire banker, resumed his political career just before finishing third in the Jan. 17 first round of the presidential election.
Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Semynozhenko (in charge of humanitarian affairs)
Volodymyr Semynozhenko, 60, has had a long political career and chaired several different parliament committees in parliament. The Kharkiv native was twice appointed deputy prime minister and served as the minister of science and technology from 1996-1998. Semynozhenko was one of the early leaders of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions from late 2001. In 2006, he formed and led the political organization called the Ukrainian Forum, which analyzed national and political trends and their effect on both Ukraine, and the rest of the world.
Deputy Prime Minister Victor Tikhonov (in charge of regional policy)
Viktor Tikhonov, an engineer who later specialized in economics and earned a masters degree in law, worked in various enterprises in Luhansk Oblast before first being elected to parliament in 1991. The 61-year old served as deputy head of Luhansk Oblast from 1995-1998 and as head from 1998-2002. He reelected to parliament in from the Party of Regions in 2007, serving on the budget committee.
Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Sivkovych (in charge of law enforcement)
Volodymyr Sivkovych in the 1990s became a businessman and politician after serving in the military and as an officer for the Soviet KGB. From 2000-2005, the 50-year old belonged to the Forward, Ukraine! and Labor Ukraine parties. He was elected to parliament in 2006 on the Party of Regions’ ticket, serving as deputy head of parliament’s law enforcement committee. Re-elected in 2007 from the Party of Regions, Sivkovych chaired parliament’s ad hoc committee investigating the poisoning of former President Viktor Yushchenko.