Where are the Ukraine’s most promising ‘Foreign Reformers’ Now?

Story of : Oleksiy Honcharuk ,Valeria Gontareva, Natalie Jaresko, Eka Zguladze, Khatia Dekanoidze, and Wojciech Balzun


All of Ukraine struggles to understand what happened to Valeria Gontareva, Natalie Jaresko, Eka Zguladze, Khatia Dekanoidze, and Wojciech Balzun and other so called “foreign reformers” who were happen to be granted with Ukrainian passports.

Ukrainians love creating, and following, myths which concern themselves, particularly when it involves the way this nation has placed roots in areas beyond its territory. Thus, any big names involved in these myths are continually harkened back to, from legendary figures such as Roksolana to Hollywood stars like Mila Kunis, whether or not these figures recognize their own ties to Ukraine.

In other, perhaps more alarming, cases, a significant amount of foreign “guest workers” engaged in Ukraine during the time of Poroshenko’s presidency, continue to hold places in the nation unjustly. For instance, former Minister of Health Oleksandr Kvitashvili refused to leave Ukraine following his resignation, and thus still remains near the nation’s healthcare system in his current position as an expert councilman in the Parliamentary Committee for Ukrainian Health.

Another example is Aivaras Abromavichus, the Minister of Economy under Yatsenyuk’s leadership. This figure was dismissed from his post as general director of the Ukroboronprom state defense concern this Tuesday. Prior to this, the Lithuanian businessman successfully lived and worked in Ukraine. Perhaps he will stay here just like Oleksandr Kvitashvili.

At the same time, many Ukrainians who hold stronger ties to its territories, but which now live lives and pursue careers elsewhere, are forgotten. It is important to consider these figures who have also gone abroad in recent years.

Oleksiy Honcharuk, United States: Forming a New Policy

After a change in government which entailed the appointment of Dnys Shmygal as PM, the figure Oleksiy Honcharuk, the former head of the Cabinet of Ministers in Ukraine, dropped out of the news, even though it was expected that he would create a political party to take part in the recent local elections.

Instead, Honcharuk reminded everyone of his presence a couple of weeks ago, when he wrote on Facebook that he was moving to the United States in order to study and work. In a later interview with Ukrainska Pravda, he elaborated on the purpose behind this voyage.

In particular, Honcharuk claimed that he was going to work on the Atlantic Council as an “honorary expert.” However, Honcharuk stated quickly after that this, “is only a small part of my program here.” Honcharuk then went on to say, “I have two main goals here. First there will be a reelection of the president’s team in the United States. And I want to take this opportunity for a new US policy on Ukraine to appear in the United states—that is, a new American policy on Ukraine,” Honcharuk said.

Honcharuk also added, “By my example, I want to show that uncorrupted prime ministers do exist in Ukraine.” When explaining how his presence in the United States has gone so far, Honcharuk stated, “Now I am personally being introduced to all the most influential people of the United States on Ukraine’s issues. These are not only people from the Atlantic Council.”

“I plan to be in the States before the inauguration of the new president. Until about the end of February,” Honcharuk concluded.

Valeria Gontareva, UK: One book and Thirty-three Misfortunes         

The former head of Ukraine’s National Bank is, on the other hand, in London. Prior to her move, the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation made sluggish attempts to bring Valeria Gontareva to justice, and to investigate some of her more questionable actions, but gained no success in these endeavors. Living a life of exile, Gontareva’s experiences outside of Ukraine are also filled with drama and adventure. A year ago, Gontareva was victim to an accident:

“I was hit by a car on Monday afternoon, August 26th, 2019, at a pedestrian crossing in central London, and I am now in a hospital. The police are now investigating: is this an accident or have threats begun to materialize?” Gontareva reported to LIGA.net.

By ‘threats’, Gontareva is pointing to the personal hostility she is subject to from Ihor Kolomoysky, the oligarch who lost his brainchild due partly to Gontareva’s actions, according to PrivatBank.

Gontareva points explicitly to the hostility of Ihor Kolomoysky due to the fact that he explicitly claimed responsibility for an act of arson upon her household. The outraged oligarch Kolomoysky also sued Gontareva for libel, and won in court, obviously placing himself as a clear antagonist to Gontareva.

Following the car accident, Gontareva was paid a visit by Petro Poroshenko, one of her longtime associates. She also published a book on banking reform in Ukraine, titled “Mission Feasible: The Real Story of the Big Banking Reform in Ukraine”. The book was written and published in English, with the co-authorship of Yevgeny Stepanyuk, the former head of National Bank Financial Sector Reform Department.

Natalie Jaresko: Puerto Rico Gathered for Maidan

US citizen arrived in Ukraine in December of 2014, and has since received Ukrainian citizenship. After the resignation of public figure Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Jaresko was promised the Prime Minister’s office, but resigned along with the entire cabinet of Yatsenyuk instead.

Jaresko now lives and works in Puerto Rico, and has claimed she is not returning to Ukraine. She has even gone so far as to already sell part of her Ukrainian estate. As far as her contributions to Ukraine itself, the only impact Jaresko can claim responsibility over is her contributions to the establishment of a cooperation with the IMF, which aimed at restructuring Ukrainian’s external debt.

But what is Jaresko doing in the Caribbean? Rumors are that this figure manages the finances of Puerto Rico after its national debt exceeded over $70 billion, causing the nation to declare a technical default. Controlled by the United States, Puerto Rico has been unable to escape a severe economic crisis for more than ten years. In March of 2017, Jaresko thus became the Executive Director of the Financial Management and Control Board of Puerto Rico, and gets paid for her efforts with a salary of more than half a million dollars a year.

Will her mission be as feasible as that of Gontareva? It is difficult to say conclusively. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Puerto Rico is shaking beneath the weight of not only its national debt, but also its large number of anti-government protests, the reasons for these protests being, quite simply, total “impoverishment”— a state often experienced within Ukraine as well.

Often, people joke that Jaresko is only sent places wherein a ‘crisis’ needs to be created. Jaresko was only assigned the four-year contact in Puerto Rico after resigning from the Minister of Finance of Ukraine in 2017, stating in an interview that she was looking for a job. In Kyiv, living in a luxurious mansion of 1260 square meters, sources report that Jaresko also continues to head the public organization “Aspen Institute”, funded by American businesses.

Eka Zguladze and Khatia Dekanoidze, Georgia: Back to the Roots

Zaguladze and Dekanoidze are clear indications that not all Georgians want to make Ukraine happy at all costs. Considered a very harmonious and lovable couple of reformers, this pair came from Georgia after previously being employed in the law enforcement system. Both arrived to Ukraine to continue this work. For some period of time, rumors circulated that Zguladze might run as the Minister of Internal Affairs, but she was unable to take this chair from leader Arsen Avakov. Instead, as Zguladze was formerly the deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Georgia between 2005-2012, this figure was offered a similar position in Ukraine.

Khatia Dekanoidze, on the other hand, was heading the Police Academy for five years, until, in 2012, she began serving as the Minister of Education of Georgia. After arriving to Ukraine, Dekanoidze then became an advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs, and later, the head of the National Police of Ukraine.

Both Zguladze and Dekanoidze actively developed reforms in Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 2016, however, both women expressed a desire to retire. Claiming that their reforms were complete, and there was nothing else of interest for them to accomplish in Ukraine, Zguladze and Dekanoidze returned to Georgia.

Since this event, Zguladze has recently renounced Ukrainian citizenship, and Dekanoidze became actively involved in the political activity of Georgia. Inviting Georgian journalists to her household, Dekanoidze flaunted the resources she gathered from her work in Ukraine by actively displaying her three-room Georgian penthouse— proving that work in Ukraine pays well.

Wojcich Balczun, Poland: Flow, song

Balczun is probably most well known as one of the more eccentric members invited to Ukraine, as he was formerly a rock musician in Poland before becoming the head of Ukrzaliznytsia, Balczun, though he did have many years of experience prior to this in infrastructure.

Balczun was head of Ukrzaliznytsia since April 2016, for a year and four months. His department angered the then profile minister Volodymyr Omelyan.

In Ukraine, Balczun seems to have spent most of his time performing music, rather than doing responsibilities necessary to his post. As such, he resigned just after two years, when one of his subordinates was caught taking bribes in 2017.

On October 1st, 2019, Wojciech Balczun returned to Ukraine without any political plans or ambitions, but instead flew to the capital specifically to perform as a guitarist of a band known as Chemia.

We might suppose that Balczun is all right, given that his income in the Ukrzaliznystia enterprise was possibly much lower than the monthly income of, say, a member of the supervisory board of Ukrzaliznytsia such as Serhiy Leshchenko, who receives more than 10,000 USD. Nevertheless, despite maybe not receiving as much income for his services, Balczun, just as all the figures mentioned previously, clearly utilized Ukrainian politics to service his own greed, before leaving these responsibilities, and the loyalty of this nation, in order to entertain incredibly frivolous endeavors.