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In Ukraine, Top Zelenskiy Aide Is Favorite To Become Next Prime Minister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) and the deputy chairman of the Office of the President, Oleksiy Honcharuk, who is believed to be the top pick for prime minister.

The political party of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will likely offer the post of prime minister to Oleksiy Honcharuk, one of the presidential office’s deputy heads, Reuters reports, citing one of the party’s lawmakers on August 27.

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg and the Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda both also reported this week that Zelenskiy favors Honcharuk.

"We considered the only candidate – Mr. Honcharuk. We had the possibility to talk to him and ask any questions," Servant of the People party lawmaker Iryna Vereshchuk said on a TV talk show on August 27.

According to the Ukrainian Constitution, the ruling coalition or majority party in parliament appoints the prime minister, as well as cabinet posts, the chief prosecutor, and other positions.

Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party took a solid majority of 254 parliamentary seats in last month’s elections.

On Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24, the president said he had narrowed the selection down to two people.

"I have to make this decision this week, I have no time to wait,” Zelenskiy said. “I could honestly say…I like a few people. I won’t tell who exactly. I’ll just say there are two."

In July, Zelenskiy said he wants the prime minister to be a professional economist and an “absolutely independent person who has never been a prime minister, [parliament] speaker, or a leader of any [parliamentary] faction.”

The new parliament gets sworn in on August 29, but the prime minister won’t be named and the cabinet won’t be formed that day, said the next likely speaker of parliament, Dmytro Razumkov, as reported by Interfax.

Honcharuk, 35, spent much of his career as a lawyer, eventually becoming a lead partner at a firm that specializes in real estate development. In 2015 he ran the EU-funded nongovernmental organization BRDO that focused on reforms and advised Stepan Kubiv, the first deputy prime minister during former President Petro Poroshenko’s administration.

Current Finance Minister Oksana Markarova is also a top candidate for prime minister, Zelenskiy told RFE/RL on August 24.

With reporting by Ukrainska Pravda, Bloomberg, Reuters, and Interfax
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