Ukraine’s President Poroshenko has fired the minister of defense, a career policeman who started service in the late Soviet Union and rose through the ranks in a post-Soviet environment. Not to deny Heletey’s achievements as minister, I wonder whether a graduate of a Soviet police academy is a good fit for the top military job in a country at war.
I have high hopes for the Ukrainian parliamentary election scheduled for October 26, not least because it should enable Poroshenko to form a strong cabinet instead of having his administration double-check the actions of Yatsenyuk’s government. Ukraine deserves a better cabinet than the current one, neither representative nor professional enough. It is dominated by politicians from Western Ukraine, with only two members out of nineteen from Kyiv, two from Kharkiv and none from Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk, to say nothing of Donetsk.
Most ministers do not belong to any party but some are former or current members of Julia Timoshenko’s Batkivschina, which is all but defunct, and Svoboda, whose popular support is limited to 2-3%.
Ukraine is going to need people like Pavlo Sheremeta, also a Western Ukrainian and a graduate of Lviv University, an Emory MBA graduate and the founder of the Kyiv Mohyla Business School. His background is more in management and education than in academic economics, which isn’t bad at all in my book, but more important are his cosmopolitan, rather than narrowly provincial, post-Soviet experience and worldview. Unfortunately Sheremeta resigned in September but why not invite him again? Poroshenko would also do well to invite a Western-educated (ideally, Anglosphere-educated) legal scholar to help reform the legal system. I wouldn’t trust graduates of post-Soviet law schools with the job.