RFE/RL: Out Went The Cabinet, In Came The Coronavirus: Pressure Mounts For Reforms In Ukraine

Ukraine had 47 confirmed cases of the virus as of March 21, fewer than its neighbors, but reported three deaths and has imposed similarly tough measures in a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus

Todd Prince
Sunday, 22 March 2020 18:57

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had the wind at his back last year.

Following his landslide victory in April with 73 percent of the vote, he became the first president to have a majority in Ukraine's parliament when his party, Servant of the People, swept national elections three months later.

That gave him the mandate and the power to push through long-awaited reforms seen as needed to attract investment and improve a struggling economy sapped by corruption and a continuing war against Russia-backed separatists in the east.

There was a powerful potential obstacle in Ihor Kolomoyskiy, the influential metals and banking tycoon who backed Zelenskiy's rise to power. The new president would be beholden to him, many feared.

Fast-forward to early March of 2020, when an abrupt move by Zelenskiy deepened those fears.

The comic-turned-president unexpectedly fired the six-month-old cabinet led by Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, immediately triggering concerns that he was turning his back on reforms needed to lock in a $5.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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