On December 12th the VR elected the controversial figure of Nestor Shufrych to the position of Emergency Situations Minister, with added responsibilities for clearing up the Chernobyl mess. Shufrych, who is a currently a deputy in the Crimean autonomous legislature, was a Social Democratic Party-united [SDP(o)] lawmaker in the preceding VR, and for a while SDPU(o) deputy when the odious Viktor Medvedchuk was its chairman.
His nomination by Yanukovych and unexpected elevation to cabinet minister is seen by many as a 'poke in the eye' for Yushchenko and the Oranges. The Emergency Situations chair was vacated by Viktor Baloha three month ago, when he left to head the Presidential Secretariat.
During the 2004 Orange Revolution, Shufrych, a tenacious pit-bull terrier of a man, was Yanukovych's representative at the Central Election Commission. On one occasion during the OR he was seen on TV staggering half naked, holding his torn shirt after a scuffle with Orange leaders in the Election Commission building. Another time he drove into some Orange demonstrators, but was rescued from what could have developed into a serious incident. He was Yanukovych's proxy in the Supreme Court, challenging the result of the December 26th re-run of the elections.
His name has cropped up in criminal fraud investigations and publicity stunts, in some of which he has allegedly assaulted others but also has claimed to be a victim of assault. He is just that kind of obnoxious guy that make other folks take a swing at him - in other words, a troublemaker.
The colorful Shufrich has been accused of being a wife-beater, and has registered property in his mother's name in various financial schemes which were under investigation. He was honorary chairman of the Zakarpattya soccer club, where special forces arrested around 30 people, seizing and arsenal of hand guns and automatic weaponry.
Shufrych, according to magazine gossip columns, is often seen with glamorous ladies in the capital's nightclubs - the sort where white powder is allegedly sniffed, and years ago it was even rumored that, for a while, he was Yuliya T's boyfriend.
Shufrych is not on a PoR party man. I'd bet that many PoR deputies are not happy about the appointment of this man, who has been described as a walking 'Emergency Situation' himself. I'd bet PoR's image-makers are none to happy either. He won't attract more votes to PoR. But Yanuk just couldn't resist pulling his 'attack dog' out of the kennel, maybe as a riposte to Yush's recent appointment of one of Ukraine's richest and most successful businessmen, Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy, to the National Security and Defense Council [see previous posting], or maybe maybe because he is annoyed that the president has vetoed the 2007 budget. Its just part of the trial of strength going on between the two Viktors.