The Odessa regional administration’s deputy head Yulia Marushevska will be appointed deputy head of the Odessa customs office, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has announced, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reports.

"Not later than Monday, the next working day, Odessa will have a new customs chief," Poroshenko said while opening a new center for administrative services in Odessa on Friday, 18 October, adding that Marushevska will occupy the post.

According to Poroshenko, Marushevska has good organizational skills. He expressed the hopes that she will change the situation in the Odessa customs. "A new customs terminal will be built, and the time of clearance of cargo will be reduced ... which will increase budget revenues and facilitate speedy construction of an Odessa-Reni highway," said Poroshenko.

Marushevska said on her personal Facebook page that she studied at Stanford University in the United States. According to media reports, she is 26 years old. She was born in the Nikolayev region and graduated from the Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University in 2012 with a degree in Ukrainian language and literature.

Marushevska became widely known in February 2014, when she recorded the “I Am a Ukrainian” video message to the foreign audience, which quickly became one of the most viewed videos about the Maidan protests on YouTube. The video has now exceeded 8 million views.

The press service of the Odessa regional administration told Interfax Ukraine that the regional administration’s head Mikheil Saakashvili signed the directive on Marushevska’s appointment on 8 September, but the document was not published on the regional administration’s website on that day.

As reported, the head of the Odessa customs, Vladyslav Raksha, wrote a letter of resignation in late August under pressure from the public and parliamentary deputies. 

Earlier, Saakashvili told the Prosecutor-General’s Office, the head of the Interior Affairs Ministry, and the head of the Security Service of Ukraine that officials of the State Fiscal Service has committed crimes, particularly crimes involving the Odessa customs. According to him, officials of the State Fiscal Service colluded to understate the customs values of goods at the Kiev and Kherson customs and overstate the values of identical goods at the Odessa customs, which resulted in forced artificial redistribution of goods traffic.

In his opinion, such criminal acts inflict huge losses on businesses, which undermine the economic stability of the Odessa region and the economic security of the country as a whole.

In addition to overall improvement of its investment climate, Odessa is particularly interested in efficient operation of its customs service because this will enable it to collect 50% more revenues than its monthly revenue target to allow it to finance the reconstruction of the Odessa-Reni highway. This became possible after the parliament adopted the relevant amendments to the Budget Code on 3 September. Similar schemes will be introduced in the Volyn and Lvov regions, where the local authorities will be able to spend revenues 50% in excess of their monthly revenue targets on repair or reconstruction of the Lvov-Radekhov-Lutsk highway and its Lvov-Skole and Skole-Slavskoye sections.