A clutch of fresh faces confronted Ukraine’s Prime Minister at the first meeting of the country’s new Government.
Most prominently, the head of the central bank Serhiy Arbuzoz is now Deputy Prime Minister. And he could prove useful. The cabinet’s first major task will be securing a loan from the IMF at the end of January.
Leonid Kozhara is the new Foreign Minister. “Kozhara’s appointment is logical and symbolic,” says analyst Ihor Kohut. “He has lobbied particularly hard in Europe, with the EU. It could mean that Kiev will finally sign its association agreement with the EU in 2013.”
But others are more cynical. “The Government has been put together in a very clear way,” says opposition MP Mykola Tomenko, “key decision-making in everything concerning finance, assets, land and property will be controlled by the President’s so-called “family” in other words, those close and loyal to him.”
Ukraine is facing serious economic challenges. For example, the IMF has warned Kiev to pass more of the cost of the gas it buys from Russia to ordinary Ukrainians. The subsidies in place drain the budget but politicians are wary of making what would be an unpopular move.