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BREAKING NEWS

Zelenksy's political entourage: jobs for pals and a military rethink

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Zelenksy's political entourage: jobs for pals and a military rethink
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Reuters
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It took almost one month for the former comedian and now new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to be sworn into power after his landslide win. But a month is a long time in politics and the political situation in the country changes every minute.

An intense, engaging and divisive campaign has not brought about any stability so far, and Zelensky went as boldy as he could while still obeying the Ukrainian constitution, and according to his opponents - possibly even beyond that.

Euronews looks into the most important decisions and appointments the new Ukrainian president has taken and what was the outcome of those so far.

Snap elections?

During his inauguration speech, Zelensky announced his desire to dismiss the parliament, and this decree came into force on Thursday. His team says the legal tenet required for such move is the absence of a parliamentary coalition, which Zelensky says has been the case since 2016.

However, the chairman of the parliament Andriy Parubiy said on Wednesday the decision to dismiss the MPs will be contested in the Constitution court by some of them.

Snap elections might now happen on the 21 July. This decision, from a man so new to politics, garnered much attention in Ukrainian society, despite this not being a rare step for Ukrainian presidents to take: 3 of 5 of them did the same during their term in power.

Meanwhile, the first opinion polls reveal that Zelensky’s political party “Sluga Narodu” (Servant of the People) has the support of almost 44% of the decided voters. 10% of Ukrainians are ready to vote for “Oppositional Platform - For Life”, a Russophile party ran by Yuriy Boyko, the ally of Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in 2015. Ex-president Petro Poroshenko’s political power gained almost 9% of support, and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party "Batkivschina" (Motherland) - a little bit more than 7%. “Holos” (Voice) - the new party of another celebrity - rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk is supported by 4.6% of voters.

Zelensky asked MPs for a new electoral law, but they didn't cooperate

In the bill, he suggested the electoral threshold be lowered to 3% from 5% and for dissolution of the plurality voting system (first past the post). In the document he, however, kept the voting lists closed when just a day earlier during his inauguration speech he asked the deputies to change the law to make those lists open.

MPs not only didn’t vote in favour of the bill but did not even factor it into their agenda of the day.

Now the president’s administration says the snap elections should happen according to the existing law.

One of the most discussed plans of the new team is to launch a referendum on any agreement with Russia regarding the conflict in eastern Ukraine. However, Ukraine does not currently have a law on referendums.

Departures

Zelensky asked parliament to vote for the departure of the Prosecutor General and the Defence Minister and the Head of a Security Service. The foreign affairs minister resigned earlier of his own volition. So has the head of the State Security Administration and deputy head of Security Service of Ukraine. Volodymyr Grossman, the Prime Minister, said he plans to follow the trend.

Old and new friends in the presidential administration

Andriy Bohdan, a 42-year-old lawyer linked to an oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, was appointed as a head of the presidential administration.

His right to take up such a position is questioned by the justice department due to his association with Yanukovych. Bohdan himself says this is unjust.

Zelensky named Olena Zerkal deputy head of his administration. But later she announced that she will remain a deputy foreign affairs minister - her current post. Another well-respected Ukrainian diplomat, the head of the Mission of Ukraine to NATO, was later appointed to the position.

Ruslan Ryaboshapka - a former member of the National Agency for Corruption Prevention will most likely help Zelensky to combat fraud in power, he was appointed as deputy chief of staff.

Zelensky rejigged the top hierarchy of the military by appointing Ruslan Khomchak as sole chief. This appointment received mixed reactions experts and opinion makers. Khomchak, an experienced participant in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He was a commander during the Illovaysk battle, where a lot of Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives in encirclement.

Top jobs in the presidential administration were also taken by Zelensky’s partners in show business. The first deputy chief of staff is now Serhiy Trofimov, former executive director of Zelensky's comedy production studio Kvartal 95. Yuriy Kostyuk, the screenwriter of Kvartal 95 and co-author of the television series “Servant of the people” was appointed as deputy chiefs of staff.

Zelensky’s long-term business partner Serhiy Shefir is the new President’s first aid.

Another friend of Volodymyr Zelensky and a colleague from Kvartal 95 Ivan Bakanov got the job of deputy head of Security Service of Ukraine.

Reuters