Former lawyer Oleksiy Honcharuk is the new prime minister of Ukraine. The parliament voted for his candidacy on Aug. 29. He was supported by 290 out of 424 lawmakers.

Volunteer Andriy Zahorodniuk, 44, was voted in as Ukraine’s new defense minister, career diplomat Vadym Prystaiko, 49, was voted in as new foreign minister, while president’s childhood friend Ivan Bakanov, 45, became head of Ukraine’s Security Service, or SBU.

Honcharuk, 35, was predominantly supported by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party faction, which consists of 254 lawmakers.

Most recently, Honcharuk worked as the deputy head of Zelensky’s office overseeing economic development and reforms. 

Prior to taking office, he was the head of Better Regulation Delivery Office, a European Union-funded independent policy institute aimed at improving the business environment and state regulation in economic sectors. In the past, Honcharuk ran his own law firm and served as an adviser to Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv. 


“He’s a good guy, young, very energetic, at the same time he has both economic and legal experience, which I think is important for this post,” said David Arakhamia, leader of the Servant of the People faction in parliament.

Smaller parties declined to support Honcharuk.

“We know neither him, nor his program,” said Yuriy Boyko, chair of the 44-member faction of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform — For Life party.

Voice, a liberal party that won 17 seats in parliament, and the 25-member Batkivshchyna party, also declined to vote for Honcharuk, saying that they didn’t know his program and his candidates for the Cabinet.

Honcharuk entered politics in 2014 when he unsuccessfully ran for parliament as the leader of the Syla Lyudei party, receiving less than one percent. He then became an adviser to Ecology Minister Ihor Shevchenko. After Shevchenko was fired, Honcharuk became an adviser to Stepan Kubiv, who, besides being economy minister, was also Ukraine’s deputy prime minister.


Honcharuk is a graduate of Kyiv Mohyla Business School and an Aspen Institute Kyiv program. 

Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk (L) and President Volodymyr Zelensky at the first meeting of the new parliament of Ukraine on Aug. 29, 2019. (Oleg Petrasiuk)

The new Foreign Minister Prystaiko began his diplomatic career in 1994, taking on different posts during his time in the foreign ministry.

He served as Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada between 2012 and 2014. Since 2017 he served as first deputy head of Ukraine’s foreign ministry and led Ukraine’s mission to NATO. He briefly served as deputy head of Zelensky’s presidential office.

Zahorodniuk is the former head of the supervisory reform office at the Defense. He was appointed as a non-resident adviser to Zelensky in July. 

Bakanov is Zelensky’s childhood friend, who was the long-time head of Kvartal 95, a production studio founded by Zelensky. He has been the acting head of the SBU since May. 

After sundown, the parliament with a 281 vote in favor, approved Honcharuk’s nominees for the rest of minister positions.

Two ministers kept their posts.

Andriy Bohdan, head of presidential office talks to Arsen Avakov, minister of internal affairs, during the first session of Ukraine’s parliament, on Aug. 29. (Oleg Petrasiuk)

Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s longstanding Minister of Interior Affairs, remained in charge of his ministry, which he heads from February 2014.


Ukrainian anti-corruption watchdogs and civic activists have repeatedly called for Avakov to be fired due to his controversial reputation and numerous corruption scandals associated with him. Avakov denies all accusations of corruption.

Oksana Markarova, who heads the Ministry of Finance from 2016, also entered Honcharuk’s cabinet.

Among other notable members of the cabinet, Timofiy Mylovanov, honorary president of the Kyiv School of Economics, will head the economy ministry, while Dmytro Kuleba a diplomat and former permanent representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe, was appointed deputy prime minister in charge of European integration.

Late at night, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, 42, was appointed Ukraine’s new Prosecutor General, instead of Yuriy Lutsenko, who submitted a letter of resignation earlier the same day. Lutsenko has a questionable reputation, being previously accused, by civic watchdogs, of stalling investigations.

Ryaboshapka previously worked as deputy head of the justice ministry. Later, he worked in the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption.

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