The Ukrainian parliament appointed first deputy speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk as the new speaker of Verkhovna Rada on Oct. 8.
A total of 261 lawmakers voted in favor of Stefanchuk’s appointment, 222 of which came from the governing Servant of the People party.
Stefanchuk is replacing former speaker Dmytro Razumkov, who was dismissed the day before, after a clash with President Volodymyr Zelesnky and the ruling party over legislation to tackle the influence of oligarchs. He also stopped short of endorsing sanctions against pro-Kremlin oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk in February.
Stefanchuk was the representative of Zelensky in the parliament before he stepped down from the role on Oct. 6, ahead of his appointment.
The new speaker said during a speech in the parliament on Oct.7 that he sees the new position “as an opportunity to create quality legislation.”
Stefanchuk’s appointment to one of the key political posts in the country was expected by analysts, who believe Zelensky needs his loyalist to oversee the parliament.
“The Office of the President needs the Verkhovna Rada speaker to be ‘their person’ so there are no situations like with the law on oligarchs,” political expert Volodymyr Fesenko, who is close to the current government, told the Kyiv Post.
“With Stefanchuk, the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada will not distance itself from the Office of the President and will not try to pursue its own policy.”
Who is Stefanchuk?
Stefanchuk, 45, is a legal scholar and professor who participated in drafting many bills.
In 2016-2018, Stefanchuk was an adviser to Vice-Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv. In 2017, he applied to become a judge of the Supreme Court but failed to overcome the competition. Stefanchuk said he had known Zelensky since college when they both participated in KVN, a popular comedy competition.
After Zelensky’s landslide victory in 2019, Stefanchuk became his adviser and the ideologist of the Servant of the People party. Back then, he claimed the Servant of the People was a libertarian party. However, later the party did not adhere to these principles.
From May 21, 2019, Stefanchuk served as president’s representative in the Verkhovna Rada. In early August, Zelensky dismissed Stefanchuk, but soon, on Aug. 19, reappointed him. Some believe that it was a premature move to prepare for Stefanchuk’s replacement of Razumkov.
Stefanchuk is one of the supporters of the speedy consideration of the bills, which became known as “turbo regime.” He believes it is necessary to adopt the new procedural rules of the Verkhovna Rada, ensuring speedy consideration of projects.
Stefanchuk’s brother, Mykola, is also a lawmaker from the Servant of the People party.
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