Pynzenyk, Viktor

Image - Reforms and Order party press conference.

Pynzenyk, Viktor [Пинзеник, Віктор], b 15 April 1954 in Smolohovytsia, Transcarpathia oblast. Economist and politician. Head of the Reforms and Order party (October 1997–February 2010); member of the state commission on administrative reform (1997–99); and head of the Institute of Reform. Following studies at Lviv University (1970–75), he graduated as an economist. Later (1977–79) he pursued postgraduate studies in Lviv, obtaining the candidate’s degree in 1980 from the Lviv Polytechnical Institute. His doctoral studies took place at Moscow State University (1987–89), and since 1991 he has held the title of professor. His academic career at Lviv University began in 1975 with the position of assistant professor and culminated in 1991–92 as department head of economics. From March to October 1992 Pynzenyk was deputy head of the economic policy collegium of the State Duma advisory to President Leonid Kravchuk. Thereafter, until April 1993, he served as minister of the economy, and until August 1993 as vice-prime minister responsible for the economy, overseeing the shock therapy needed to change from state planning to the free market. In September 1993, he became head of the foundation for the support of reform.

In the March 1994 parliamentary elections, Pynzenyk won a seat in Lviv oblast and joined the Reforms caucus. At dissolution he was a member of the banking and finance committee. In 1991, he had been elected from another Lviv oblast constituency and was a member of the parliamentary commission on economic reform. From 31 October 1994 to 8 August 1995, he was first vice-prime minister responsible for economic reform, but demoted to unranked vice-prime minister, a post he held until his resignation on 2 April 1997. He also served on the national council advisory to the president on problems of statistics, as well as of economic reform. Since 1996 he has been an honorary professor of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

Pynzenyk headed his Reforms and Order party’s list for the PR ballot in the 1998 elections to the Supreme Council of Ukraine, but it managed to obtain only 3.1 per cent of the vote. He was instead elected from a single-member constituency in Lviv oblast, rejoining the banking and finance committee. Initially, he remained unaffiliated with any fraction or caucus, but on 22 December 1998 a Reform-center caucus was created by his party consisting of 14 parliamentary deputies including two from Popular Movement of Ukraine (Rukh).

In April 2001, on the eve of the ouster of Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, Pynzenyk spoke out about the emergence of a ‘Communist-oligarchic’ majority in the Supreme Council of Ukraine and identified the sitting president, Leonid Kuchma, as engineering the fall of the government. When the institution of state secretaries was introduced the following month, Pynzenyk saw it as the displacement of cabinet government by presidential power. He was re-elected party leader on 30 June 2001.

Pynzenyk’s Reforms and Order party was a major component of Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine electoral alliance in the 2002 elections, and Pynzenyk himself was number five on the bloc’s list. In parliament, he returned to the banking and finance committee and belonged to the Our Ukraine caucus. The caucus’s dwindling membership and political influence were blamed on Pynzenyk. At its convention on 18 July 2004, the Reforms and Order party changed its name to the Our Ukraine party with Pynzenyk as leader, but the name change was reversed the next year ending the unavoidable and unnecessary confusion.

On his 50th birthday, Pynzenyk was awarded the title of ‘Honored Economist of Ukraine’ by President Leonid Kuchma.

In the elections to the Supreme Council of Ukraine of 2002 Pynzenyk was elected on the Our Ukraine list headed by Viktor Yushchenko. Under President Yushchenko Pynzenyk served and was dismissed twice (2005–6 and 2007–9) as minister of finance. On the second occasion it was due to disagreement with Prime Minister Yuliia Tymoshenko over the budget. He advocated a balanced budget and minimum deficit while she, anticipating the 2010 presidential elections, preferred debt-fuelled spending. The country had been hit hard by the 2008 global economic crisis.

During his career as a parliamentarian Pynzenyk served continuously in the Supreme Council of Ukraine Rada from 1991 to 2019, with the sole exception of the year-long 2006–7 (Fifth) Convocation. But his party affiliation varied. After resigning as Leader of the Reforms and Order party in 2010, he won a seat in 2012 on the list of Vitalii Klychko’s UDAR, and in 2014, on the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. In 2021, he described the parliament of the day under President Volodymyr Zelensky as being no less leftist, i.e., opposed to meaningful economic reforms, than 30 years ago. Pynzenyk lamented that the hyperinflation of 1990s could have been avoided and that the 2008 crisis had not been dealt with properly which endangered the further development of the country’s economy. He, however, endorsed the government’s decision to allow for a market in real estate (land).

Pynzenyk returned to his alma mater of Lviv National University in April 2024 to deliver an open lecture on Ukraine’s economy in wartime as well as to promote his book on popular economics. Professor Pynzenyk has over 400 publications to his credit.

Bohdan Harasymiw
[This article was written in 2024.]

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