: Reuters: In new Ukraine, old clan ties propel 'boy' prime minister's rise

14:55 Apr. 24, 2016

Reuters: In new Ukraine, old clan ties propel 'boy' prime minister's rise

Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman during a meeting in Kyiv, April 21, 2016. (Photo UNIAN)

Newly appointed Ukrainian Prime Minister is known as Poroshenko's ally

The rapid rise of a former provincial mayor to become Ukraine's youngest ever prime minister has stirred fears that the very system of clannish oligarchy that the 2014 Maidan street protests were meant to dismantle is still alive and well.

Volodymyr Groysman, 38, took office last week at the bidding of his political mentor, President Petro Poroshenko, whose confectionery empire Roshen is based in Groysman's hometown of Vinnytsia.

Read also RFE/RL: Ukraine's would-be Prime Minister is loyal Poroshenko ally - Volodymyr Groysman

Groysman's appointment ended months of political turmoil that had stymied the passage of reforms Kyiv must implement to root out corruption and secure billions in new Western aid.

But it remains to be seen whether he can sufficiently distance himself from Poroshenko to make the changes leaders in the ex-Soviet country promised after the Maidan protests that toppled pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich. 

"Groysman is very dependent on Poroshenko," said Yegor Sobolev, an MP for the reformist Samopomich party, which quit the ruling coalition in February.

"Any large-scale reforms will be out of the question. They will try and preserve the status quo for Poroshenko's clan and the arrival of Groysman will mean a significant broadening of the influence of the Poroshenko clan on executive power."

Poroshenko himself is the country's sixth-richest man with an estimated fortune of 8 million, according to Forbes magazine. Since taking power in 2014 he has moved to clip the wings of other businessmen who exert political influence.

Watch also Parliament chairman Volodymyr Groysman replaces PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk

Groysman is widely referred to as "Poroshenko's man" and nowhere is Poroshenko's influence more evident than on the streets of Vinnytsia itself. The town's main tourist attraction is a giant floating fountain, with music, light and laser displays, paid for by Roshen and named after it.

Poroshenko's office declined comment when asked whether Groysman would be able to sufficiently distance himself from the president's influence.

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