Ukraine Elects its First Jewish Prime Minister

April 16, 2016  

Volodymyr Groysman, 38, is also the country’s youngest premier ever • Groysman elected with a majority vote of 257 to 50 • “I will show you what leading a country really means. Together we will make Ukraine successful,” he tells fellow lawmakers.

Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday approved Volodymyr Groysman for the post of prime minister, paving the way for a new government in the biggest shake-up since a 2014 uprising brought in a pro-Western leadership. Groysman will be the first Jewish premier in Ukraine’s history.

Groysman’s nomination was backed by 257 MPs, comfortably over the minimum 226 needed. Only 50 MPs opposed the nomination.

An ally of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Groysman is expected to continue the country’s EU-supported reform program. At 38, Groysman is also Ukraine’s youngest prime minister ever.

“I will show you what leading a country really means. Together we will make Ukraine successful,” Groysman said ahead of the vote, which also finalized the resignation of Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, who failed to deal with the county’s deep-seated corruption.

Tackling corruption, opposing populism, and improving state management would now take priority, the newly elected premier vowed.

NPR quoted Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Dov Bleich as saying: “The significance of this is that it reconfirms that the Jewish community is respected and safe today in Ukraine. That a Jew can be a member of parliament demonstrates that Jews are part of the regular life of the country.”

Chabad Rabbi Levi Matusof told Israel Hayom that Groysman, who has relatives in Israel, is “a sharp, very focused man. He’s proud of his Jewish roots and he has never tried to hide the fact that he’s Jewish.”

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