Reformers to lead 2 key Ukrainian state companies

MOSCOW – The Ukrainian government has appointed two Western-educated executives to lead the country’s two key state-owned companies.

Wojciech Balczun, former chief executive of Poland’s largest railway freight carrier, will head Ukrainian Railways while Ihor Smilyansky, who has worked for global consulting companies, will lead the Ukrposhta postal service.

Their appointment was seen as a test of reform commitment for Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who was named the country’s new prime minister last week at the end of a protracted political crisis.

Critics were initially alarmed that Poroshenko nominated his ally Groysman for the job and not the U.S.-born finance minister, saying that Groysman was likely to bow to pressure from Ukraine’s influential tycoons.

The loss-making railways and postal service have remained largely unreformed since the fall of the Soviet Union.