Oleksandr Klymenko Official website


Nine times out of ten, biographies – are dry sets of dates and facts. It is difficult to guess to guess what was really going on in a person’s life behind it. I decided to follow a different path and to tell you not only about the events of my life, but also about my attitude to it, about people, who filled it with sense, and about my life principles and aspirations. The story of Oleksandr Klymenko – in the first person.


Together with Anton we bought our mother a huge bouquet of roses for our first earned money. I will never forget her smiling eyes she looked at us. She was full of love and, at the same time, I think, pride for us.

Mother, you have put in us your strong character, your poignant wit, your love for life and excitement of each new day, no matter how difficult it may have turned out to be…

Mom passed away in September 2013… However, memory about her smile, warmth of her hands, her laughter, as well as her poems dedicated to me and Anton are still warm my heart and fill my life with MEANINGS…


I was born on November 16, 1980 in Makeyevka city, Donetsk region. It is a large industrial city. The most ordinary Soviet flat. The most wonderful family living there.

My Dad, Victor Vasilyevich, has always been and still remains instance of a real man for me – organizer and leader, solicitous father, loyal friend! He is a reliable person and powerful shoulder for his family and team. He is very strict and demanding persons, especially in regards of his sons. He has always said: “I do not ask others do more than I do by myself”. He has been doing plethora things for many people.

My father taught me how to LIVE – in work, taking care of my neighbor. Mother, Lyudmila Ivanovna, taught me and my brother to be disciplined, responsible and, at the same time, taught us to dream and believe. She filled our childhood with bright colors. She was unbelievably creative, versatile and talented person. She wrote poetry, arranged small and large family celebrations for us. Thanks to her, I and my brother Anton were always surrounded by love, care and incredible warmth.

Brother Anton

Anton really supported me that time. He said that this offer – was not an honor and it was not a privilege. It was an obligation, a duty of service. I have always believed and I still do believe that the power can never be end in itself.

It can only be a tool in order to achieve more equitable and more efficient world order. Not for myself. For the sake of country and its citizens. People, who use it for any other purposes, will definitely lose. The power will destroy themselves…

On April 25, 2015, my dear brother Anton passed away … It is irreparable loss…

During the last year of his life he was extremely concerned about everything that was happening in our Ukraine and our homeland – Donbas. It was painful for him to observe, how everything built was collapsing, how people, our fellow citizens, were dying, how the country was transforming into the ruin. He dreamed about peaceful and successful Ukraine, happy and prosperous Ukrainians. Making all his dreams come true – is affair of honor for me in order to raise my head to the sky and say: “Look, brother, your dream has come true …”

Brother Anton

After that, nothing seemed impossible. We were working on the most complicated and various projects until we have built a large and successful business together.

Basically, we could stop there. However, neither I nor Anton have ever stopped! Our goals and dreams have always been far beyond the current reality. We wanted to change the world around us for the better.

Anton could not stand injustice and wanted to change the country, change the system. That time, in 2004, he saw such an opportunity during the Orange Revolution, and he became actively involved in politics, in order to make dreams come true. Later my brother, like the whole country on the whole, became very disappointed with the people, who came to power. They have not been able to change the system and have failed the task of successful Ukraine.

In 2004, I shared my brother’s aspirations, but I have never been really interested in politics. I focused on business and faced with million problems and obstacles every day. In particular, it was related to the tax field. One day during the skull session between business and regional authorities, I criticized existing tax system. There was an answer: “Instead of criticizing, get up and do something”.

Brother Anton

My elder brother! My closest person, the most reliable friend, my soulmate.

Anton… He is an idealist, romantic in many ways, in some ways even a little bit of adventurer in a good meaning. A man, who have never stopped Dreaming…

His horizons knew no boundaries. He was able to inspire and ignite with an idea. He was not afraid of carrying out the most complicated projects. The word “impossible” simply did not exist for him. He was living in order to win…

Exactly thanks to him, I’ve learned to look at situations and processes not such as it was, but such as it might be. He inspired me with his ideas and I put them into practice and implemented them.

Together with his fellow enthusiasts, who were studying at historical faculty of Donetsk National University, Anton founded Association of Young Political Scientists. I was working there for almost a year as a volunteer. When the Association received the first grant from the “International Renaissance Foundation”, I earned my first salary. I thought it was the greatest victory. Our joint victory…

Serving the Ukrainian State. 2005-2010

As a result, by 2010, when I have already headed the State Tax Administration in Donetsk region, there were fixed the highest indicators of monthly tax revenues in the history of the Tax Service of the region.

It was quite a difficult period for me. It taught me a lot. Firstly, it demonstrated the crucial role of the team. I always select talented people, those, who are stronger and smarter than me in my team.

That time, plethora people came from the business, like me. They gave up living for themselves in order to work for the sake of the country. My task as a leader was to unite the team, to inspire them with an idea, to create a system of work.

Have I succeeded? I think yes. Most of the people, with whom we have started to change the system in Donetsk, are still in my team. We have passed the tests and gone through success and difficulties.

Serving the Ukrainian State. 2005-2010

What was next? Laborious daily work on changing the system. It was not enough to proclaim: “We are changing the system” and to adopt an action plan – it was necessary to control its implementation each day, every hour.

Step by step we were changing the format of work with large taxpayers. We have introduced a new system of strategic planning, analytical tools and monitoring of risks, which have been fully implemented at all-Ukrainian level. We have completely changed approaches to the work: business started to be perceived as a customer of the Tax Service, rather than a “cash cow” for the budget. I understood: the more money business earns the more taxes it will pay. Therefore, we did our best to create comfortable working environment, to reduce bureaucratic obstacles, to accelerate the process of formalization of documents.

Not all people supported changes. The system was actively resisting new innovations.

Yes, I had to struggle with opponents, who exceeded me in terms of influence. However, I have always had responsibility for my own decisions and principled in all matters. I have always had the only answer for everybody: “Everyone should pay taxes!”

Serving the Ukrainian State. 2005-2010

I started my work in public service in 2005 as a Deputy head of the Specialized State Tax Inspectorate of working with large taxpayers in Donetsk.

I can not say it was easy. Big business was playing a crucial role in Donetsk region – prosperous and the most industrial region of Ukraine. Its attitude to paying taxes was not positive.

As a representative of business, I was looking at tax system “from the other side of the barricades.” The service itself – a typical government body, where bureaucracy sometimes prevailed over common sense, had completely different vision.

Before I came to work, I have learnt regulatory framework during a week. It included whole volumes of laws, regulations, individual orders and internal instructions. I remember the test, which is compulsory for admission for public service, I passed it with the grade 23 points out of 25 possible. Nobody has ever had such result in the regional office that time.

Crisis manager. 2011-2012

There was implemented a comprehensive tax risks monitoring system, which is still working. Consequently, we have received the result: increasing of the tax collection. Our success was noticed by international experts – Ukraine’s position has immediately grown by 18 points: from 181th to 165th position in the Paying Taxes ranking, which is an integral part of Doing Business Report.

What was that period of my life? It was really difficult, but extremely enthralling. I was working 24/7, almost without leaving the office. Each reform, every innovation faced with resistance both from inside the system and from outside. I have acquired new supporters, but also new dangerous opponents. Frequently I found myself on thin ice. I was experiencing tremendous pressure, which I felt during the meetings in high offices, and in press. There was a period when, according to press, I was being consistently fired once a month. Nobody ever likes the Head of the Tax Service. It is an axiom.

But I have always been standing my ground. I have always remembered what I was working for. For the sake of Ukraine and its future.

Crisis manager. 2011-2012

In 2011, I plunged headlong into the work. We invited specialists from PricewaterhouseCoopers in order to accompany all integration processes of the tax and customs services. We implemented a customer-oriented approach to tax administration; we started the process of modernization of the Tax Service under the slogan “From fiscal authority to customer-oriented service”. By the way, it is still used, by the leadership of the agency. Unfortunately, nowadays, it is only a slogan, but not concrete actions.

During less than a year of work, we have opened more than 500 taxpayers’ Service Centers throughout the all regions of Ukraine; we had launched a large-scale work on electronization of tax services.

Queues disappeared from the tax offices. Taxpayers stopped going from office to office, collecting papers and signatures. Everything could have been done in 10 minutes in a Service Center “single window”. I had deliberately canceled audits of cash discipline, which have been used as a tool of extortion by the tax authorities. In general, we had introduced a moratorium on inspections of small businesses, all procedures had been transformed into electronic format, and we were issuing free electronic keys for submission of tax reporting remotely.

Experience and approaches, accumulated during the work with big business at the regional level, have been implemented in the Central Office for large taxpayers and opened in 2012. Big businesses received individual tax support in the Central Office. A particular expert was assigned to each company, we have switched from supervising function to analysis, consulting and assistance to taxpayers. As a result, budget revenues from large businesses have increased significantly.

Crisis manager. 2011-2012

In 2011, I was invited to occupy the position of the Deputy Chairman of the State Tax Service of Ukraine (STSU). On November 7, 2011 I was appointed as the Head of this agency. I was 31.

I know about the existence of the myth that, supposedly, my appointment was due to Donetsk registration, that I was too young and could have never achieved this position on my own.

In this context, I would like to say the following. I was invited to work due to the fact that I had implemented effective cases at the regional level, I had found common language with payers, and I had changed approach to work, which resulted in budget revenue.

I was invited to head the Tax Service as a crisis manager. There was a clear task – to improve tax administration and to increase collection of taxes. How does it differ from the practices of appointment to public service during 2014-2015?

Changing the system. 2013

Unfortunately, after my resignation, large business managed to lobby its interests and to mitigate the law. Even if is operating, it will not be efficient. However, back in 2013, it was impossibly complicated and such an important victory.

I have made a lot of enemies. Nowadays, I understand that I am persecuted, in many ways, due to my adherence to principles during that period. However, I have never had doubts that this Law and other implemented reforms were necessary. It was essential neither for the government, nor for the President, nor for me personally – it was essential for Ukraine!

Today there are a lot of accusations against me. Do I feel sorry about anything? The only thing I am sorry about is that I didn’t have enough time to bring all planned reforms to life and to perform my duty for the country.

Changing the system. 2013

It was a new format for business – an open Head of the Ministry, dialogue and implementation of ideas. We were holding agreed package of reforms in our hands. However, unfortunately, we did not have enough time to implement it due to the events country in late 2013 in the country.

I think that adoption of the Law on Transfer Pricing is my greatest victory during the work as a Minister. When the state had no resource to reduce tax burden on small and medium-sized business, large financial-industrial groups were withdrawing huge sums from Ukraine in circumvention of the budget via internal and external offshore. Such practice has existed for decades. For me, it was an affair of honor to bring justice in this matter.

Together with the best Ukrainian and foreign experts, we have spent months on working out this draft law. Hundreds of hours of consultations and teamwork with business. Hard battles in the Parliamentary Committee. Endless phone calls and even threats from those, whose interests were affected by this reform. Unending offers of bribes for the abandonment of the draft law – it is about huge money, sums amounted to millions of dollars. Unprecedented number of amendments. Deputies (MPs) were trying to blur the essence the draft law in this way!

However, the law was adopted in such version that protects the interests of the state and its citizens! It was the greatest victory!

Changing the system. 2013

Mega-efficient Monitoring Center was created in order to struggle with tax evasion. The work of the tax police was reoriented to analytic functions. System mechanisms of the fighting against corruption have been launched inside the institution.

Implementation of activities within the framework of the Action Plan of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and EU was under my personal control. By the end of 2013, all Tax and Customs issues between Ukraine and the European Union have been completely resettled.

I have always stated that the Ministry – is stable and reliable partner for business. This statement was not just empty words. We have established a dialogue with Ukrainian and foreign investors. There was created an Investment Council, which included owners and representatives of Ukrainian and foreign business, authoritative experts, representatives of international organizations.

We brought up for discussion with the Investment Council each reform, which we were planning to implement. It is about the reforms on reduction of taxes and fees, introduction of customs post-audit and convergence of accounting and tax reporting, etc.

Changing the system. 2013

In December 2012, the leadership of the country decided to integrate Tax and Customs Services into the Ministry of revenue and duties.

The news did not surprise me. We were preparing offers and drafts of the merger. I understood the complexity of this challenge. I understood, that in case of heading the Ministry, I would invade such areas of interest, which could even cost me my life.

But I don’t know how to do things halfway. Thanks to Anton, I don’t know the word “impossible”…

In fact, we have conducted integration of the two services during six months. Together with experts from PwC we have worked out and started to implement a five-year Strategic Development Plan of the Ministry.

Large-scale electronization was proceeding in the Tax area and automation processes were launched in Customs. By the end of 2013, even Taxpayer’s Electronic Office have been operating in the test mode. Unfortunately, nowadays, it remains only as a project.

It was reflected in the Doing Business ranking. Ukraine had burst into the hundred of the most investment-attractive countries and occupied 96th position in the new ranking due to the electronization of the Tax field.

Time of challenges. 2014-2015

I was not afraid of the threats, which were addressed to me. Nevertheless, I had no right to risk the life of my family, my children. Therefore, when Kiev city center was captured by the protesters, I decided to take my family away from Kiev to Donetsk, which seemed to be a secure and stabile island in the storm in the whole Ukraine…

Then, after the events in Donetsk airport, I was tried to be detained without any justification. In addition, shooting of me and people, who were accompanying me, was opened. I realized that staying in my own country was no longer safe. At that particular moment, justice and common sense were completely out of the question.

What happened next? Year of unjust accusations and slandering me. Persecution of those, who worked with me. Destruction of everything that was created by my hands.

Faith, fair one and and my children helped to go through that difficult time.
I believe that all the challenges that have befallen on me should be perceived with humility as befits an Orthodox Christian.

…No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Now God will visit us with sadness, but tomorrow will turn our sorrow into joy, and no one will take away this joy from us! Dare, just dare, the people of God, for He, who has called you to this place, He will defeat our enemies, as God Almighty!

Time of challenges. 2014-2015

In December there was a moment when protesters surrounded the building of the Ministry on Lvivska Square – it is located next to the Pechersk court, where a detained activist was held at that time. Then I went outside and talked to people. I heard a lot of harsh words, but it was still better than new clashes and riots.

– Listen, – I was telling them. – Inside this building there are servers that keep information, which is crucial for the country. If they crash down, everything will collapse. State employees will not receive salaries, companies will not be able to work. Do we all want to do something bad for the whole country?

On Maidan there were plethora representatives of the middle class: entrepreneurs, employees, qualified professionals. They understood I was talking about. I was dealing with cultured people, who felt responsibility for their country. However, there were others, namely, radicals, which were aimed at destruction. Fortunately, at that moment, they were in the minority.

I stayed at the Ministry until all the staff had left the building, except the security.

Events of subsequent days have been so rapid, that I even think that that was not happening to me.

Time of challenges, 2014-2015

Since January 28, 2014, after the resignation of government, I have been performing official duties of the Minister during the dialogue between the government and opposition related to the searching for compromises.

I believed that my main task during that difficult time was ensuring the work of Ministry of revenue and duties in regular mode.

If the tax system crashed down, the consequences would be disastrous – without money in the budget, collapse in the country would be strengthened.

I was talking to the business, participated in live broadcasts and meetings in every region, and we had been heard. Despite the events on Maidan, business did not stop paying taxes, budget was filling up, all social payments were paid out by the state on time! I think never a one “Molotov cocktail” was thrown towards the building on Lvivska Square exactly due to this fact. That is why those, who were trying to bring burning tires to tax and customs offices in Western Ukraine, abandoned this idea.

Beginning of a new path towards peaceful and successful Ukraine

I used to work systemically. In order to help the region and its residents, I decided to create public initiative “Restoring Donbas”, which is not only helping people in difficult situation today, but also it is working on the issues of systemic solutions of the problems in the region, ways of restoring peace in Ukraine.

I believe – by joint efforts we have to give Ukraine another chance to become a peaceful, successful, thriving, prosperous, civilized country. Country, where human life and peaceful sky overhead are above all the values.

Country, where all people are striving to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies. Where problems are being solved not by means of violence, but via wisdom. Where the force of law prevails over the rule of force.

The country, where it is interesting for people to live in, because each new day – is an opportunity to create something that will remain after you.

I believe in Ukraine. I believe that we, Ukrainians, will succeed.

God help us all!

Beginning of a new path towards peaceful and successful Ukraine

In parallel with business projects, I have continued to deal with the protection of my honor and reputation. All charges that were occasionally voiced by authorities and law enforcement agencies, addressed to me, are completely groundless and politically motivated. I will not stop fighting for my honest name, both in Ukrainian and European courts. I have already won a number of claims, and I am not going to stop. Justice exists, and I will not get tired to fight for it. Not only for myself, but for the whole Ukraine.

However, the most difficult moment for me was the fact that I cannot return to Ukraine in such a difficult time for it.

It is impossible to be happy when your homeland is on fire. Everything that was happening in my life, faded against the background of a great tragedy – war in Donbas – my home region. It is painfully to observe, what was happening, and I could not sit idle, even being thousands of kilometers away from home.

Beginning of a new path towards peaceful and successful Ukraine

In order to help my brother, I joined the management process as a consultant and… run mad after it. I confess, structuring and organizing a business into system, implementing the most advanced project management tools, searching for the innovative solutions – is “drive” and adrenaline rush for me.

Since there was no possibility to be physically in Ukraine, we have implemented IT technologies, allowing remotely control every process, every problem solving. We have built an effective system of business operation in an international format. It can be controlled from anywhere in the world, and will never lose a whit in quality.

Unfortunately, business does not work in a perfect utopian country, but it works in Ukraine. Therefore, my crisis management skills have also been upgraded. I have received an Executive MBA from the Higher School of Economics under the program ” The Strategic Management Response to the Challenge of Global Change”.

Nowadays, I can say that for me it is not a problem to raise any project, any business, any enterprise from the ruin. And the country too.

Beginning of a new path towards peaceful and successful Ukraine

I have such a character – I cannot stay long doing nothing. Life without creation is empty and boring.

An opportunity to apply my energy and efforts had been put in my way rather soon.

After I came to work in public service in 2005, my brother Anton took control over the management of the business assets that we have built together in the beginning of our career. Frankly speaking, during 10 years of my operating in government, I did not know about the state of his business. We have always had a clear distinction: family – is one thing, work/business – is another thing. Anton had never delved into the details of the events in the Ministry, similarly I – had never delved into the details of his business.

In 2014, due to general economic crisis in Ukraine, and also because of the significant pressure on political grounds – only because it belonged to the brother of ex-Minister – it was a period of turbulence for the business.