President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 5 appointed his first governors. Markiyan Malsky was appointed the governor of Lviv Oblast, while Pavlo Kyrylenko was made the governor of Donetsk Oblast. On July 6, Ihor Bondarenko was appointed governor of Zakarpattia Oblast.
Since assuming office on May 20, Zelensky fired 20 out of 24 governors. Malsky, Kyrylenko and Bondarenko are the first governors appointed by the new president.
On June 26, Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko, an appointee of former President Petro Poroshenko and a critic of Zelensky, leaked the list of governor nominees which Zelensky’s administration handed out to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval.
The list contained eight names, including Malsky and Kyrylenko.
Kyrylenko, prior to assuming his post, worked as a military prosecutor in Zakarpattia, a prosecutor in Donetsk and Crimea, and at the General Prosecutor’s office.
The Myrotvorets website, a questionable and often politicized database of people who are alleged to pose a threat to Ukraine’s national security, lists the governor’s brother Yevhen Kyrylenko as a fighter for Oplot, an illegal insurgent organization fighting against Ukraine in Donbas.
Zelensky during a visit to Donetsk Oblast, on July 5, where he officially introduced Kyrylenko as governor, said that the two brothers don’t speak to each other due to political differences.
“Pavlo (Kyrylenko) himself left the occupied territory and has been working in Ukraine since the early days of the occupation. Many families are broken because of the war,” Zelensky told locals.
Bondarenko, is a well-known regional businessman who owns a chocolate factory named after himself: Bondarenko. He also has a chain of coffeehouses in Uzhhorod, the capital of Zakarpattia Oblast, 750-kilometers to the west of Kyiv.
Malsky, the new governor of Lviv Oblast, is a lawyer who worked in a number of law firms, including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris. In 2016, he was appointed an Honorary Consul of Austria in Lviv. Malsky is a board member of Ukraine’s Arbitration Association and the regional department of the European Business Association.
He is the only one of the governor nominees whose candidacy Zelensky made public. In mid-June, he asked his Facebook followers to help him choose between three candidates for the governor of Lviv Oblast, including Malsky.
In a June 4 interview with the Kyiv Post, Malsky said he was not planning on entering politics in the near future, as it would conflict with his status as an honorary consul.
Zelensky had one more governor almost appointed.
During the introduction of Malsky, in Lviv, on July 6, Zelensky said that Denys Shmygal would become the governor of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.
“The decision was already made but there is no decree yet,” he said.
Shmygal heads Burshtyn coal-fired power plant owned by DTEK, Ukraine’s largest energy company, owned by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov.
Shmygal was a runner-up in the Facebook poll for the Lviv governor post, won by Malsky.
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