Ukraine Shuffles Cabinet to Better Manage Virus, Perk Up Economy

Ukraine appointed three new ministers in a government reshuffle aimed at improving the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy.

Lawmakers on Thursday approved the candidacy of Viktor Lyashko as the country’s fourth health minister since Covid-19 emerged, urging him to accelerate what’s currently one of Europe’s slowest vaccination programs.

Oleksiy Lubchenko, a former head of the State Tax Service, was named economy minister and Oleksandr Kubrakov, who managed the government-controlled roads company, becomes infrastructure minister.

The changes come halfway through President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s first five-year term, during which he’s failed to meet election pledges to stamp out corruption and raise living standards. Reversing an earlier stance, he signaled last year that he may seek a second stint in office.

The government has faced criticism during the pandemic for shortages of everything from masks and other protective gear to oxygen supplies at hospitals that have been overflowing with infected patients. Vaccination marks another major frustration as officials didn’t secure sufficient supplies of shots quickly enough to inoculate the 42 million population.

The economy, meanwhile, has also suffered, deepening its contraction last quarter amid prolonged lockdowns.

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