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Viktor Yanukovych

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Collection: 1950 Births, 2003 Tuzla Island Conflict, Candidates for President of Ukraine (2004), Candidates for President of Ukraine (2010), Donetsk National Technical University Alumni, Eastern Orthodox Christians from Ukraine, Fugitives Wanted by Ukraine, Fugitives Wanted on Murder Charges, Governors of Donetsk Oblast, Grand Croix of the Légion D'Honneur, Impeached Officials Removed from Office, Independent Politicians in Ukraine, Living People, Members of the Verkhovna Rada, Party of Regions Politicians, People from Yenakiieve, People of the Orange Revolution, Presidents of Ukraine, Prime Ministers of Ukraine, Pro-Government People of the Euromaidan, Recipients of the Heydar Aliyev Order, Recipients of the Order of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, Recipients of the Order of José Marti, Recipients of the Order of Merit (Ukraine), 1St Class, Recipients of the Order of St. Sergius, Recipients of the Order of St. Vladimir, 1St Class, Ukrainian Criminals, Ukrainian Engineers, Ukrainian Exiles, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, Ukrainian People of Belarusian Descent, Ukrainian People of Polish Descent, Ukrainian People of Russian Descent, Ukrainian Politicians
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Viktor Yanukovych

Viktor Yanukovych
Віктор Янукович
4th President of Ukraine
In office
25 February 2010 – 22 February 2014
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Oleksandr Turchynov (interim)
Mykola Azarov
Serhiy Arbuzov (interim)
Preceded by Viktor Yushchenko
Succeeded by Oleksandr Turchynov (interim)
9th and 12th Prime Minister of Ukraine

In office
4 August 2006 – 18 December 2007

|- | Cabinet || Second Yanukovych Government
President Viktor Yushchenko
Deputy Mykola Azarov
Preceded by Yuriy Yekhanurov
Succeeded by Yulia Tymoshenko

In office
21 November 2002 – 7 December 2004
28 December 2004 – 5 January 2005

|- | Cabinet || First Yanukovych Government
President Leonid Kuchma
Deputy Mykola Azarov
Preceded by Anatoliy Kinakh
Succeeded by Mykola Azarov (acting)
4th Governor of Donetsk
In office
14 May 1997 – 21 November 2002
Preceded by Volodymyr Sherban
Succeeded by Anatoliy Blyzniuk
Personal details
Born Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych
(1950-07-09) 9 July 1950 [1]
Yenakiieve, Donetsk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union[1]
Nationality Ukrainian
Political party Party of Regions (1997–2014)
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1980–1991)
Spouse(s) Lyudmilla Oleksandrivna (neé Nastenko)
Children Oleksandr (b. 1973)
Viktor (1981–2015)
Alma mater Donetsk National Technical University
Ukrainian State University of Finance and International Trade
Religion Ukrainian Orthodox
Website Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine (Archived)
People's Deputy of Ukraine
5th convocation
25 May 2006 – 12 September 2006
Elected as: Party of Regions, No.1[2]
6th convocation
23 November 2007 – 19 February 2010
Elected as: Party of Regions, No.1[3]

Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych (Ukrainian: Ві́ктор Фе́дорович Януко́вич,    ; Russian: Виктор Фёдорович Янукович; born 9 July 1950) is a Ukrainian politician who served as the fourth President of Ukraine from February 2010 until his removal from power in February 2014. Yanukovych served as the governor of Donetsk Oblast, a province in eastern Ukraine, from 1997 to 2002. He was Prime Minister of Ukraine from 21 November 2002 to 31 December 2004, under President Leonid Kuchma. Yanukovych first ran for president in 2004: he advanced to the runoff election, and initially defeated his opponent. However, the election was fraught with allegations of fraud and voter intimidation. This caused widespread citizen protests and Kiev's Independence Square was occupied in what became known as the Orange Revolution. The Ukrainian Supreme Court nullified the runoff election, and ordered a second runoff. Yanukovych lost this second runoff election to Viktor Yushchenko. Yanukovych served as Prime Minister for a second time from 4 August 2006 to 18 December 2007, under President Yushchenko.

Yanukovych was elected president in 2010, defeating Yulia Tymoshenko. November 2013 saw the beginning of a series of events that led to his ousting as president.[4][5][6] Yanukovych rejected a pending EU association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia. This led to popular protests and the occupation of Kiev's Independence Square, a series of events dubbed the "Euromaidan" by young pro-European Union Ukrainians. In January 2014, this developed into deadly clashes in Independence Square and in other areas across Ukraine, as Ukrainian citizens confronted the Berkut and other special police units.[7] In February 2014, Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war, as violent clashes between protesters and special police forces led to many deaths and injuries.[8][9][10] On 21 February 2014, Yanukovych claimed that, after lengthy discussions, he had reached an agreement with the opposition.[11] Later that day, however, he fled the capital for Kharkiv, travelling next to Crimea, and eventually to exile in southern Russia.[12]

On 22 February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove him from his post, on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his duties.[13] Although the legislative removal by an impeachment procedure would have lacked the number of votes required by Ukraine's then-current constitution,[14] the resolution did not follow the impeachment procedure but instead established that Yanukovych "withdrew from his duties in an unconstitutional manner" and citing "circumstances of extreme urgency",[15][16] a situation for which there was no stipulation in the then-current Ukrainian constitution.[17] Parliament set 25 May as the date for the special election to select his replacement,[13][18][19][20] and, two days later, issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of "mass killing of civilians."[21]

Since his departure, Yanukovych has conducted several press conferences. In one of these, he has declared himself to remain "the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state elected in a free vote by Ukrainian citizens".[22] On 3 October 2014, several news agencies reported that according to a Facebook post made by the aide to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, Anton Gerashchenko, Viktor Yanukovych had been granted Russian citizenship by a "secret decree" of Vladimir Putin.[23] On the same day, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he didn't know anything about this and hadn't seen such a decree.[24] In January 2015, Interpol placed Yanukovych on its wanted list.[25] On 16 July 2015, Yanukovych was removed from this list with the Red Notice request for Yanukovich from the Ukrainian government pending further review.[26] On 18 June 2015, Yanukovych was officially deprived of the title of President of Ukraine.[27]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Political career: 1996–2010 2
    • Prime Minister (2002–2004) 2.1
    • 2004 presidential campaign 2.2
    • After the Orange Revolution 2.3
    • 2006–2007 elections and second premiership 2.4
  • Presidential campaign and election 3
  • Presidency (2010–2014) 4
    • Inauguration 4.1
    • First days 4.2
      • Presidential powers of appointment 4.2.1
    • Domestic policy 4.3
      • Financial policy 4.3.1
        • Tax code
        • Domestic spending vs. debt
      • Energy policy 4.3.2
        • Russian gas
        • Downgrading uranium stock
      • Cultural policy 4.3.3
        • East/West Ukraine unification
        • Holodomor
        • Russian as an official language
        • Religion
      • Social policy 4.3.4
        • Chernobyl workers' benefits cut
    • Foreign policy 4.4
    • Alleged attempt to remove opposition 4.5
    • Press censorship allegation 4.6
    • Crimea naval base 4.7
    • 2012 parliamentary elections 4.8
  • Removal from presidency 5
    • Parliamentary vote 5.1
      • Alleged procedural insufficiency 5.1.1
    • Disavowal by party 5.2
    • Arch rival's release 5.3
    • Arrest warrant 5.4
    • Abandoned estate 5.5
  • Background to removal 6
    • Euromaidan protests 6.1
    • Personal excesses 6.2
    • Reports of corruption and cronyism 6.3
    • Accusations of police abuse and vote rigging 6.4
  • Exile in Russia 7
    • 28 February press conference 7.1
    • The issue of Russian military intervention 7.2
    • 11 March press conference and further developments 7.3
  • Former criminal convictions and new criminal cases 8
    • Ukrtelekom case 8.1
    • Signing of the Kharkiv treaty 8.2
    • Mass murder at Maidan 8.3
    • Property theft through conspiracy 8.4
  • Academic degrees 9
  • Personal life 10
  • Cultural and political image 11
    • Awards 11.1
  • See also 12
  • Notes 13
  • References 14
  • Further reading 15
  • External links 16

Early life and career

Viktor Yanukovych was born in the village of Zhukovka near Yenakiieve in Donetsk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. He endured a very hard childhood about which he has stated, "My childhood was difficult and hungry. I grew up without my mother who died when I was two. I went around bare-footed on the streets. I had to fight for myself every day."[28] Yanukovych is of Russian, Polish,[29][30] and Belarusian descent. Yanukovych is a surname of Belarusian origin;[31] Yanuk[32][33] being a derivative of the Catholic name Yan ("John").[31][34][35] His mother was a Russian nurse and his father was a Polish-Belarusian locomotive driver, originally from Yanuki, Vitsebsk Voblast.[36][37] By the time he was a teenager, Yanukovych had lost both his parents and was brought up by his Polish paternal grandmother, originally from Warsaw. His grandfather and great-grandparents were Lithuanian-Poles. Yanukovych has half-sisters from his father's remarriage, but has no contact with them.[38]

There are rumors that Yanukovych could be an out of marriage son of [248]

Mass murder at Maidan

The case of mass murder at Maidan gathered a whole bouquet of Criminal Code articles which also include an attempt to relocate a headquarters of Supreme Commander-in-Chief, National Bank and Foreign Ministry to Sevastopol (Article 109, part 2) as well as Yanukovych's statements about the illegitimacy of higher state authorities after his overthrow (Article 109, part 3).[248]

Property theft through conspiracy

Yanukovych is also charged with property theft in a conspiracy with the chairman of the Nadra state company (Articles 109 and 209), which has been under investigation since March 2014.[248]

Academic degrees

The former president's official website stated that he graduated from Donetsk Polytechnic Institute with a major in Mechanical Engineering, holds a master's degree in International Law at the Ukrainian Academy of Foreign Trade and is a member of the Academy of Economic Sciences of Ukraine, PhD in Economics.[249]

According to the Russian website, from December 2000 to February 2004, while in the position of Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yanukovych headed the Faculty of Innovative Management at the Donetsk State University of Management.[250]

Yanukovych’s curriculum vitae, published at website, states he is a "Doctor of Economics, Professor, Full Member of the Academy of Economic Sciences of Ukraine, Member of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences in Ukraine."[251]

Website reported that Yanukovych received the honorary title of docent (lecturer) of the Faculty of Automobile Transport at the Donetsk State Academy of Administration, a tertiary education establishment that specialised in Economics and Management[252]

Kiev Post journalist John Marone interviewed both government officials and individuals familiar with Ukrainian higher education for his assessment of Yanukovych’s degrees. According to Marone, government minister Maksym Strikha verified that Yanukovych’s documents were all in order. However, Oleksandr Zakharov, who studied international law at the Academy of Foreign Trade at the same time as Yanukovych, contended that "individual study programs" such as Yanukovych's were commonly viewed as a diploma mill for state officials.[253]

Personal life

Yanukovych is married to Lyudmyla Oleksandrivna. The couple married in 1971.[43] They have had two sons, Oleksandr and Viktor, and a grandson, Iliya.[254] From 2006 to 2014 the younger Viktor was a member of the Parliament of Ukraine; he drowned in 2015.[255] Yanukovych is a member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

In March 2012 Yanukovych stated it was "a problem" for him in 2002 to speak Ukrainian but that "once I had the opportunity to speak Ukrainian, I started to do it with pleasure".[256]

Until 2004, Yanukovych was known as batia ("Dad") among his family members, but since that time he became leader.[257][258] As Yanukovych himself stated, his wife does not wish for her grandson to pick up the bad habits of his grandfather, albeit Yanukovych did not specify what kind of habits those were.[259]

Cultural and political image

Anti-presidential inscriptions concerning Yanukovych's criminal background (Luhansk, 2011)

Yanukovych is seen by opponents as representing the interests of Ukraine big business; they point out that his campaigns have benefited from backing by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov.[260] Supporters of Yanukovych point out Donetsk Oblast (province) secured unprecedented levels of investment during his governorship.[47]

Yanukovych drew strong support from Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east of the country.[47] Yanukovych is disliked and distrusted in western Ukraine.[261] The People's Movement of Ukraine labeled his election on 10 February 2010 as "an attack by anti-Ukrainian forces in our state" and stated that "all possible legal means should be used to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of anti-state politician Yanukovych and his pro-Moscow retinue".[262] On 16 February 2010, Yanukovych issued a statement that read: "I can say only one thing to those who anticipate that my presidency will weaken Ukraine – that will never happen."[263] Yanukovych refers to himself as Ukrainian.[264] Voters for Yanukovych in 2010 believed he would bring "stability and order". They blamed the Orange Revolution for creating broken promises, a dysfunctional economy and political chaos.[265][266] During the 2010 presidential election campaign Yuriy Yakymenko, director of political research at the Razumkov Centre, stated: "I think he has not just changed on the surface but also in his ideas."[28]

In 2004, Yanukovych was seen as outgoing President Leonid Kuchma and Russian President Vladimir Putin's protégé.[47] Although Kuchma in conversation with United States Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft, in a document dated 2 February 2010 uncovered during the United States diplomatic cables leak, called the voters choice between Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko during the second round of the 2010 presidential election as a choice between "bad and very bad" and praised (the candidate eliminated in the first round of the election) Arseniy Yatsenyuk instead.[267] In another January 2009 cable (then) Ambassador of Ukraine to Russia Kostyantyn Gryshchenko stated that Putin had a low personal regard for Yanukovych.[268] In another Wikileaks diplomatic cable, Volodymyr Horbulin, one of Ukraine's most respected policy strategists and former presidential advisor to then-President Viktor Yushchenko, told the United States Ambassador to Ukraine John E. Herbst in 2006 that Yanukovych’s Party of Regions was partly composed of "pure criminals" and "criminal and anti-democracy figures."[269]

Yanukovych and Putin during moleben celebrated by metropolitan Lazarus of Crimea in memory of 1025th anniversary of Christianization of Kievan Rus'.

Yanukovych is not known as a great speaker.[270] His native language is Russian,[271] similar to a majority of the population of his power-base and native Eastern Ukraine.[272] He was however making efforts to speak Ukrainian better.[260] He did admit in March 2012 that it was a problem for him in 2002 to speak Ukrainian.[256] He has made some blunders, however, in Ukrainian since then.[273][274] For the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election Yanukovych wrote an autobiography for the Central Election Commission, in which he misspelled his academic degree.[275] Thereafter, he came to be widely referred to under this nickname in oppositional media and opponents' speeches.[275] His autobiographic resume of 90 words contains 12 major spelling and grammatical errors.[276] Opponents of Yanukovych made fun of this misspelling and his criminal convictions during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election campaign and the incident during the campaign (September 2004) in Ivano-Frankivsk when Yanukovych was rushed to hospital after he had been hit with an egg (while government officials claimed he was hit by a brick) was a source of ridicule.[275]

Other famous blunders by Yanukovych are his claim that Greek-Catholic Ukrainian community, which, along with the rest of the Ukrainian people, celebrates Christmas that day,[280] and confusing Kosovo with Serbia and Montenegro, and North Ossetia with South Ossetia in March 2010.[281] Over the years, Yanukovych's proficiency in the Ukrainian language has noticeably improved.

Yanukovych stated in November 2009 that he respects all Ukrainian politicians. "I have never offended anyone. This is my rule of politics."[282] In spite of his claim, on 22 September 2007, during 2007 Ukrainian Parliamentary Election campaign, while delivering a speech in Vinnytsia, he compared Yulia Tymoshenko's performance as Prime Minister to "a cow on the ice"[283] (" Вона прем'єр-міністр, як корова на льду....", "She is as prime minister as a cow on the ice") most likely referring to her skills and professionalism as a prime minister.

Other cases of strong colloquialisms used by Viktor Yanukovych include the incident when he called former president Viktor Yushchenko "a coward and a babbler", as well as the speech in Donetsk during 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, when he referred to the electorate of his opponent Viktor Yushchenko as "goats that make our lives difficult" ("эти козлы, которые нам мешают жить"). Later, during the TV debates with Yushchenko he explained, "I called goats the traitors. According to the Bible, the goat is a traitor, and there are also rams, sheep."[284] After his February 2014 escape to Russia, during his 28 February press-conference in Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovych said, "Ukraine is our strategic partner" (misspeaking and confusing Ukraine with Russia).[285] During the same press-conference he also broke a pen in an emotional outburst, while trying to apologize to the Ukrainian people.[286]

Opinion polls have shown Yanukovych's popularity sank after his election as President in 2010, with polls giving him from 13% to 20% of the votes if a presidential election was to be held in 2012 (in 2010 he received 35.8% of the vote in the first round of that election[67]).[255][287][288] A public opinion poll taken by Sociological group "RATING" gave him 25.1% of the votes in an imaginary February 2013 presidential election.[289][4]

American consultant Paul J. Manafort advised Yanukovych on his election campaigns and media image from 2005.[65][291]

The Ambassadors of the European Union to Ukraine, José Manuel Pinto Teixeira, stated at an April 2012 interview with Korrespondent that Yanukovych's presidency "fell short of expectations".[292]

In an overview The Ukrainian Week claimed in March 2013 that Yanukovych had "failed to meet" his 2010 election promises.[293]


  • Order of Merit, 3rd class (13 November 1998), 2nd class (3 July 2000), 1st class (3 July 2002)
  • Order "Miner's award" 3, 2, 1 class
  • Order "Miner's glory" 3, 2, 1 class
  • Certificate from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (2000)
  • Order of Saint Nestor (1998)
  • Order of St. Vladimir (Patriarchate of Russia), 3rd class (1998), 2nd class (2004), 1st class (2010)
  • Order of the Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, 1st class (Patriarchate of Russia, 2004)
  • Order of St. Sergius, 1st class (Patriarchate of Russia, 2004)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (France, 2010)
  • Order of the Precious Wand (Mongolia, June 2011)
  • Order of St. Mashtots (Armenia, 30 June 2011)
  • Order of José Martí (Cuba, 22 October 2011)
  • Order Ismoili Samoni (Tajikistan, 15 December 2011)
  • Order of the Republic of Serbia, (Serbia, 6 June 2013)

See also


  1. ^ Feffer (2014) "Article 11 maintains that a vote on impeachment must pass by two-thirds of the members, and the impeachment itself requires a vote by three-quarters of the members. In this case, the 328 out of 447 votes were about 10 votes short of three-quarters,"[14]
  2. ^ On 24 October 2014 Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia had assisted Yanukovych in travelling to Crimea and then to Russia; after 21 February 2014 Putin claimed that Yanukovych "stayed for several more days" in Crimea but then asked to be evacuated to Russia "as the events in Kiev were developing very quickly and violently, it made no sense for him to return to Kiev in those conditions" (according to Putin).[202] On 22 June 2015 Yanukovych confirmed this.[189]
  3. ^ According to the Ukrainian constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian.[215] Russian is however widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine.[215]
  4. ^ According to polling organization Sociological group "RATING" in February 2013 Yanukovych would have lost the second round of the presidential election against Vitali Klitschko and/or Arseniy Yatsenyuk and/or Yulia Tymoshenko; and he would have defeated in a close race Oleh Tyahnybok (with 33.5% of the votes).[290]


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  6. ^ Maxim Eristavi (2 March 2014). "How Ukraine's Parliament Brought Down Yanukovych". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
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  38. ^ (Russian) "Прємьєр-міністр" Янукович, или неофициальная биография для тех, кто подзабыл, Ukrayinska Pravda (4 August 2006)
  39. ^ a b Vinogradova, E. Fyodor Yanukovych found out that he was not a real father to Viktor who was six months old. Fakty. 12 May 2014
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  59. ^ "Yanukovych can go to the elections, even with falsifications".  
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  72. ^ Yushchenko congratulates Yanukovych on being legally elected Ukrainian president, Kyiv Post (20 February 2010)
  73. ^ Patriarch Kirill to conduct prayer service in Kyiv before Yanukovych's inauguration, Kyiv Post (February 2010)
  74. ^ Russian patriarch to attend Yanukovych's inauguration in Kiev, RIA Novosti (19 February 2010)
  75. ^ a b Ukraine Yanukovych sets visits to Moscow, Brussels, Kyiv Post (25 February 2010)
  76. ^ New Ukraine president pledges neutrality, Agence France-Presse (24 February 2010)
  77. ^ Half-empty chamber greets Ukraine's new president, Kyiv Post (25 February 2010)
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  79. ^ Ukraine's Party of Regions to choose new leader, RIA Novosti (23 April 2010)
  80. ^ Yanukovych suspends his membership in Party of Regions, hands over party leadership to Azarov, Kyiv Post (3 March 2010)
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  82. ^ Ukraine's political cat-fight leaves voters cold, BBC News (2 December 2009)
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  84. ^ a b c Yanukovych describes current level of Ukraine's cooperation with NATO as sufficient, Interfax-Ukraine (12 January 2010)
  85. ^ Yanukovych: Ukraine currently not ready to join NATO, Kyiv Post (27 May 2010)
  86. ^ a b c Creeping Paranoia, Kyiv Post (10 November 2011)
  87. ^ President:Social standards will continue to grow in 2012, (16 February 2012)
  88. ^ President:Improvement of administrative services system will continue, (16 February 2012)
  89. ^ President:We need to bring perinatal care in Ukraine to European standards, (16 February 2012)
  90. ^ Yanukovych outlines four areas of social reforms in Ukraine, Kyiv Post (7 March 2012)
  91. ^ Ukraine government earmarks $2 billion in pre-election spending, Kyiv Post (7 March 2012)
  92. ^ Azarov:Government to cope with tasks set by Yanukovych, Kyiv Post (7 March 2012)
  93. ^ Klitschko:UDAR won't join work of Constitutional Assembly, Kyiv Post (7 December 2012)
  94. ^ Yanukovych criticises limits on his power, Kyiv Post (25 June 2010)
  95. ^ Yanukovych: Ukraine a leading country in Eastern Europe, Kyiv Post (28 January 2010)
  96. ^ a b Yanukovych: 'Some misinform international community about Ukraine', Kyiv Post (7 February 2011)
  97. ^ Ukrainian parliament creates new coalition, Kyiv Post (11 March 2010)
  98. ^ Update: Former finance minister nominated as Ukraine prime minister, Kyiv Post (11 March 2010)
  99. ^ Tax code protests intensify, Kyiv Post (26 November 2010)
  100. ^ Update: Yanukovych vetoes tax code after protests, Kyiv Post (30 November 2010)
  101. ^ Yanukovych vetoes the tax code, Kyiv Post (30 November 2010)
  102. ^ Yanukovych signs new tax code, Kyiv Post (3 December 2010)
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  117. ^ Yanukovych: Famine of 1930s was not genocide against Ukrainians, Kyiv Post (27 April 2010)
  118. ^ a b In 2002, Yanukovych as Donetsk Oblast governor endorsed book glorifying Stalin-era secret police, Kyiv Post (16 December 2011)
  119. ^ Yanukovych imagines how he signs law on Russian language, UNIAN (3 September 2009)
  120. ^ In an October 2009 poll by FOM-Ukraine 52% of the respondents state they use Russian as their "Language of communication"; 41% of the respondents state they use Ukrainian and 8% stated they use a mixture of both. Source: FOM-Ukraine (bottom of page) (Russian)
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  131. ^ Russia and Ukraine improve soured relations – Russian President, RIA Novosti (16 May 2010)
  132. ^ Putin satisfied with state of Ukrainian-Russian relations, Kyiv Post (28 June 2010)
  133. ^ Ukraine drops Nato membership bid, EUobserver (6 June 2010)
  134. ^ Ukraine's parliament votes to abandon Nato ambitions, BBC News (3 June 2010)
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  163. ^ Opposition benefiting from topic of censorship at mass media, says Hanna Herman, Kyiv Post (13 May 2009)
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  218. ^ Yanukovych 'Is Finished': Experts Dismiss Ruler's Comeback Bid, NBC News (28 February 2014)
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Further reading

  • Yanukovych, Viktor F.: Opportunity Ukraine. Vienna 2011. (Mandelbaum Publishing; ISBN 978-3-85476-379-6).

External links

  • Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine – Archived contents from 9 February 2014
  • — project created by electronic magazine where they collect information on Yanukovich after 21/2/2014
  • "All power to councils – not to a President Czar"
  • Yanukovych Personal Information Service
  • Viktor Yanukovych on Twitter
  • Party of Regions Official Information Server at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 February 2011)
  • Yanukovych’s inner circle – Kyiv Post (21 January 2010)
  • Collected News and Articles at the Guardian
  • - website dedicated to publishing documents recovered from Mezhyhirya
  • Interview with BBC Newsnight of 22 June 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Anatoliy Kinakh
Prime Minister of Ukraine
Succeeded by
Mykola Azarov
Preceded by
Mykola Azarov
Prime Minister of Ukraine
Preceded by
Yuriy Yekhanurov
Prime Minister of Ukraine
Succeeded by
Yulia Tymoshenko
Preceded by
Viktor Yushchenko
President of Ukraine
Succeeded by
Oleksandr Turchynov
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ivan Fedorenko
President of the National Olympic Committee
Succeeded by
Sergey Bubka
Party political offices
Preceded by
Volodymyr Semynozhenko
Leader of the Party of Regions
Succeeded by
Mykola Azarov
Since the summer of 2014 prosecutor's office investigates signing by the former president Viktor Yanukovych the Kharkiv treaty that allowed the

Signing of the Kharkiv treaty

On 30 September 2014 the General Prosecutor of Ukraine opened a new case against Yanukovych for using state budget money (220 million hryvnia) to establish his own private communication company based on Ukrtelekom.[247] The prosecutor's office also considers that Yanukovych was helped by the former government officials Mykola Azarov (prime minister), Yuriy Kolobov (finance minister), Anatoliy Markovsky (first deputy minister of finance), Hennadiy Reznikov (director of Derzhspetszviazok), and Dzenyk (Ukrtelekom board of directors).[247]

Ukrtelekom case

After the Euromaidan events the General Prosecutor of Ukraine opened at least four new criminal cases against the former president of Ukraine.

On 16 July 2015 Interpol Russian media reported that Interpol had suspended its international arrest warrant for Yanukovych.[242][243][244][245] According to the Ukrainian Interpol office this was a temporary measure due to Yanukovych’s complaints.[246]

On 12 January 2015, Viktor Yanukovych was [1][240][241]

Due to the Crimean crisis he was put on the US sanction list on 17 March 2014.

On 28 February 2014 the General Prosecutor of Ukraine Oleh Makhnitsky formally asked Russia to extradite Yanukovych.[238] Russian prosecutors refused to extradite him, and (contradicting Ukraine's claim) state that they have not received such a request from Ukraine.[239]

A warrant for Yanukovych's arrest was issued on 24 February 2014 by the interim government, accusing him of mass murder of protesters.[21] Acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov declared that Yanukovych has been placed on Ukraine's most wanted list and that a criminal case on mass killings of civilians has been opened against him.[237]

On 29 January 2010, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Oleksandr Medvedko claimed that Yanukovych was unlawfully jailed in his youth.[235][236]

On 11 July 2005, the office of the Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor charged Yanukovych with fraud,[232] stemming from alleged irregularities in the way his convictions were expunged twenty years earlier.[233] In 2006, the battery.[41][42]

On 8 June 1970, he was convicted for a second time on charges of assault. He was sentenced to two years of imprisonment and did not appeal against the verdict. Decades later, Yanukovych characterized his arrests and incarceration as "mistakes of youth".[42]

On 15 December 1967, at the age of 17, Yanukovych was sentenced to three years incarceration for participating in a robbery and assault.[41]

Former criminal convictions and new criminal cases

On 22 June 2015 Yanukovych was interviewed on BBC Newsnight and he accepted some responsibility for the deaths just before his removal from power.[189]

On 18 June 2015 Yanukovych was officially deprived of the title of President of Ukraine.[27]

On 21 February 2015, a year after the revolution, Yanukovych gave an interview to Channel One regarding the situation in Ukraine and promised to return to power as soon as he can.[231]

On 13 June 2014, Yanukovych released a video message in which he criticised Petro Poroshenko's handling of the unrest in eastern Ukraine, naming it "criminal orders to kill people...that causes anger and curse the mothers who see the death and suffering of their children".[229] Russian media had previously reported that Yanukovych, along with his wife, had moved to Sochi.[229][230]

On 13 April Yanukovych again gave a press conference in Rostov-on-Don, this time accompanied by former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and former interior minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko.[228]

On 28 March 2014 Yanukovych asked the Party of Regions to exclude him.[226] He was excluded on 29 March during a party congress [226][227] along with several senior figures of his régime.[226][227]

At a press-conference in Rostov-On-Don on 11 March 2014 Yanukovych asked the fascism is?" alluding to the fact that several positions in the transitional government went to representatives of right-wing extremist nationalist groups.[172] Unlike his 28 February press conference, Yanukovych did not take questions from reporters.[225]

11 March press conference and further developments

Yanukovych said: "We must set such a task and search for ways to return to Crimea on any conditions, so that Crimea may have the maximum degree of independence possible... but be part of Ukraine."[224]

In an interview with the Associated Press and Russian channel NTV of 2 April 2014 Yanukovych called Russia's annexation of Crimea "a tragedy", the 2014 Crimean referendum "a form of protest" and he stated he hopes it will become part of Ukraine again.[223] Yanukovych said he would try to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to return Crimea to Ukraine.[223] He squarely blamed the Yatsenyuk Government and acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov for Ukraine's loss of Crimea.[223] He also said he gave no orders to open fire on Euromaidan protesters.[223]

On 4 March 2014, Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, displayed a photocopy of a letter allegedly signed by Victor Yanukovych on 1 March 2014. In the letter Yanukovych requested Russian military intervention in Ukraine[222] to "restore law and order".

Yanukovych also claimed "eastern Ukraine will rise up as soon as they have to live without any means".[205] On 28 February 2014 the BBC reported him as insisting that military action was "unacceptable" and as stating that he would not request Russian military intervention.[221]

Protesters marching on the streets of Odessa on 30 March 2014; some of them holding banners claiming Yanukovych as Ukraine's legitimate president.

The issue of Russian military intervention

Yanukovych further stated he had been able to escape to Russia "thanks to patriotic officers who did their duty and helped me stay alive".[217] In the press conference he stated that he was still President of Ukraine and "I can't find words to characterise this new authority. These are people who advocate violence - the Ukrainian parliament is illegitimate".[12][205] He described the new Ukrainian authorities as "pro-fascist thugs" and that they "represent the absolute minority of the population of Ukraine".[12][205][218] He apologised to the Ukrainian people for not having "enough strength to keep stability" and for allowing "lawlessness in this country".[12] And vowed to return to Ukraine "as soon as there are guarantees for my security and that of my family".[12] He insisted he had not instructed Ukrainian forces to shoot at Euromaidan protesters.[205] He also announced he would not take part in the 2014 Ukrainian presidential election since he "believe[d] they are unlawful...".[219] He also said he was surprised ("knowing the character of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin"[205]) by the silence of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, on the events in Ukraine.[220] He hoped to find out more on Russia's position when he meets with Mr. Putin "as soon as he has time".[220]

Yanukovych said that an "armed coup" had taken place in Ukraine, and that he was still the legitimate president because there had been no impeachment, resignation, or death.[171] On 11 March he claimed he should return to Ukraine as soon as this was possible.[12][214][3][12][216]

In a press conference in Rostov-on-Don on 28 February, Yanukovych stated that all his possessions had been legally declared and accounted for.[213] The same day Swiss and Austrian authorities blocked Yanukovych's and his associates' assets, and launched a corruption investigation.[12]

28 February press conference

According to an April 2014 poll conducted by the Razumkov Centre, only 4.9% of respondents would have liked to see Yanukovych return to the presidency.[212]

On 27 February a report stated that Yanukovych had asked the authorities of the Russian Federation to guarantee his personal security in the territory of Russia, a request that they accepted.[209] Yanukovych claimed that the decisions of the Rada adopted "in the atmosphere of extremist threats" are unlawful and he remains the "legal president of Ukraine". He accused the opposition of violation of the 21 February agreements and asked the armed forces of Ukraine not to intervene in the crisis. The exact whereabouts of Yanukovych when he made this statement remains unclear.[210][211]

On 26 February the Russian information agency RosBusinessConsulting reported[206] Yanukovich's presence in Moscow. According to RBC sources, Yanukovich arrived at the Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow (often referred by its former name as "Hotel Ukraine") on the night of 25 February 2014. Then he moved to the Barvikha Sanatorium, the health resort of the President of Russia in Moscow Oblast. RosBusinessConsulting also reported sightings of Viktor Pshonka, a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine in the hall of Radisson Royal Hotel.[206] The Press Secretary of the Department that manages Barvikha Sanatorium denied the report, stating that he had no information of Yanukovich settled in Barvikha Sanatorium.[206][207] According to Russian politician Oleg Mitvol, Yanukovych bought a house in Barvikha for $52 million on 26 February 2014.[208]

In his press conference in Rostov-on-Don on 28 February Yanukovych claimed that at the time he did not "flee anywhere", but that his car was shot at "by automatic rifles" as he left Kiev for Kharkiv "to meet the representatives of local parties" and he was then forced to move around Ukraine amid fears for the safety of himself and his family.[12] "When we arrived in Kharkiv, on the early morning of 22 February, the security service started to receive information that radical groups were arriving in Kharkiv."[205]

Yanukovych left Kiev during the night of 21 February 2014. Assisted by Russian officials[200] he moved initially to Kharkiv with bodyguards and personal effects.[201][2] According to then governor of Kharkiv Oblast Mykhailo Dobkin Yanukovych was intend to make his stay in Kharkiv look like "just another presidential inspection tour" and according to Dobkin he “was desperate to make it look like he wasn’t running away”.[203] Yanukovych asked Dobkin to “pick out a few factories for me to visit”; the director of state-owned industrial giant Turboatom[204] declined even to take his call (according to Dobkin).[203] Dobkin met Yanukovych at Kharkiv International Airport after midnight.[203] According to Dobkin at that time Yanukovych “thought this was a temporary difficulty” since he believed that the 21 February deal he had signed with opposition leaders could still provide for a graceful departure of his power later in the year.[203] Dobkin's impression of Yanukovych (during this meeting) was “a guy on another planet”.[203]

Exile in Russia

[199] Upon coming to power Yanukovych had reversed oversight measures established during the Yushchenko administration to restrain the Berkut's abuse of citizens whereupon the special force "upped its brutality."[7] Yanukovych has been accused, by

Accusations of police abuse and vote rigging

On 12 January 2015, Interpol issued a Red Notice for him, making him a wanted person, on charges of 'Misappropriation, embezzlement or conversion of property by malversation, if committed in respect of an especially gross amount, or by an organized group.'[198]

Yanukovych had an estimated net worth of $12 billion, and has been accused by Ukrainian officials of misappropriating funds from Ukraine's treasury. Arseniy Yatsenyuk has claimed that treasury funds of up to $70 billion were transferred to foreign accounts during Yanukovych's presidency. [197] Authorities in Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein froze the assets of Yanukovych and his son Oleksander on 28 February 2014 pending a money laundering investigation. Yanukovych has denied that he embezzled funds and has said that his alleged foreign accounts do not exist.

Anders Åslund, a Swedish economist and Ukraine analyst, has described the consolidation of Ukrainian economic power in the hands of a few "elite industrial tycoons", one of the richest and most influential of whom has become President Yanukovych's own son Oleksandr Yanukovych. The exact distribution of wealth and precise weight of influence are difficult to gauge, but most of the country's richest men were afraid to cross the Yanukovich family, even in cases where their own economic interests favored an economically pro-EU Ukraine.[190] Young "robber capitalis[ts] have been buying up both public and private businesses at "rock bottom" prices available in the stagnating economic conditions brought on by Yanukovych's economic policies."[196] According to Aslund, one notable exception to the Yanukovych family's influence was Petro Poroshenko, who is described as "uncommonly courageous", although his confectionery empire is less susceptible to ruin by the substantial power the Yanukovych family wielded in the heavy industry sectors located in Yanukovych's geographic power base of Donetsk.[190]

By January 2013, more than half of the ministers appointed by Yanukovych were either born in the Donbas region or made some crucial part of their careers there, and Yanukovych has been accused of "regional cronyism" for his staffing of police, judiciary, and tax services "all over Ukraine" with "Donbas people".[194] Over 46% of the budget subventions for social and economic development was allotted to the Donbas region's Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast administrations – 0.62 billion UAH ($76.2 million) versus 0.71 billion UAH ($87.5 million) for the rest of the country.[195]

Yanukovych has been widely criticized for "massive" corruption and cronyism.[187][190][191][192][193]

Reports of corruption and cronyism

Yanukovych told BBC Newsnight (in June 2015) that stories that Mezhyhirya cost the Ukrainian taxpayer millions of dollars were "political technology and spin" and that the estate did not belong to him personally; he claimed that the ostriches in the residence's petting zoo "just happened to be there".[189]

Documents recovered from Yanukovych's compound show among other expenses $800 medical treatment for fish, $14,500 spent on tablecloths, and a nearly 42 million dollar order for light fixtures. Also recovered were files on Yanukovych's perceived enemies, especially media members, including beating victim Tetyana Chornovol. The cost of monitoring the mass media was reportedly $5.7 million just for the month of December 2010.[188]

In a feature with photos on Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya mansion estimated to have cost more than $75 million U.S. dollars, Sergii Leshchenko notes, "For most of [Yanukovych's] career he was a public servant or parliament deputy, where his salary never exceeded 2000 US dollars per month." Under a photo showing the new home's ornate ceiling, Leschenko remarks, "In a country where 35% of the population live under poverty line, spending 100 000 dollars on each individual chandelier seems excessive, to say the least." Crowned with a pure copper roof, the mansion was the largest wooden structure ever created by Finnish log home builder Honka, whose representative suggested to Yanukovych that it be nominated for the The Guinness Book of Records. The property contained a private zoo, underground shooting range, 18-hole golf course, tennis, and bowling. After describing the mansion's complicated ownership scheme, the article author noted, "The story of Viktor Yanukovych and his residence highlights a paradox. Having completely rejected such European values as human rights and democracy, the Ukrainian president uses Europe as a place to hide his dirty money with impunity." [187]

Personal excesses

Talks with Yanukovych failed in February 2014, and Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war since 28 protesters were killed including seven policemen and a civilian bystander, with 335 injured on 18 February and dozens of others on 20 February in bloody clashes in the capital Kiev.[186] Altogether, at least 77 people were reportedly killed in Euromaidan, and estimates ranged to over 100 deaths and 1,100 injuries.[10]

Mykola Azarov, the prime minister of Ukraine, resigned on 28 January. In a statement he wrote that he was resigning "for the sake of a peaceful resolution" to the civil unrest.[185]

Violence escalated after 16 January 2014 when Yanukovych signed Bondarenko-Oliynyk laws, also known as Anti-Protest Laws. Demonstrators occupied provincial administration buildings in at least 10 regions, sending the police fleeing through rear exits in some instances. Verkhovna Rada lawmakers repealed nine of the 12 restrictive laws that had been passed on 16 January by a show of hands, without debate. Outrage ensued at the limits the laws imposed on free speech and assembly in the country. In a striking concession aimed at defusing Ukraine's civil uprising and preserving his own grip on power, President Yanukovych offered to install opposition leaders in top posts in a reshaped government, but they swiftly rebuffed the offer to the delight of thousands of protesters on the streets craving a fuller victory in the days ahead.

The protestors were attacked by police, resulting in civil unrest across Western Ukraine. Yanukovych dismissed this as the work of his political opponents; instead, protesters called all the more for his resignation, saying he was "aloof" and unresponsive.

The protesters refused to leave the square until their demands were met. These included that the government should release jailed protesters, sign the EU agreement, and change the Constitution of Ukraine, and that Yanukovych should resign.

Yanukovych signing de facto capitulation agreement with opposition, 21 February 2014
Anti-riot police forces consisting of Internal Troops holding protective position and Berkut special policemen shooting in Kiev riots, 22 January
Mass protests in Kiev

The Euromaidan protests started in November 2013 when Ukrainian citizens demanded stronger integration with the European Union. The origins of Euromaidan began as a smaller protest that had started in Independence Square in the center of Kiev on 21 November, the day Yanukovych abruptly changed his mind on an Association Agreement with the European Union, deciding to strengthen economic ties with Russia instead.[184] But it was not until 30 November, when a group of student protesters were attacked by police leading to several injuries and hospitalizations, that the protest became a national movement. Many people joined the protest in Independence Square, whose numbers had swelled to nearly 1 million by 8 December.

Euromaidan protests

Background to removal

Protesters walked unchallenged into the former president's office and residential compounds after police and security left their posts in Kiev. Protesters had free access to government buildings, and to the presidential mansion and estate. They were amazed at the opulence and extravagance of what they found, including a private zoo, a fleet of cars, and a large boat.[183]

Yanukovych abandoned his large estate, located in a former forest preserve in Kiev. He had acquired Mezhyhirya[181] in 2007, according to critics through a convoluted series of companies and transactions. Yanukovych did not reveal the price he paid, although he called it a "very serious price".[182] Mezhyhirya is estimated to have been sold for more than $75 million U.S. dollars.

Abandoned estate

Due to the Crimean crisis he was put on the US sanction list on 17 March 2014.

On 28 February the General Prosecutor of Ukraine Oleh Makhnitsky formally asked Russia to extradite Yanukovych.[180]

A warrant for Yanukovych's arrest was issued on 24 February, accusing him of mass murder of protesters.[21] Acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov declared that Yanukovych has been placed on Ukraine's most wanted list and that a criminal case on mass killings of civilians has been opened against him.[179]

Arrest warrant

On the same day that parliament removed Yanukovych from office, it voted to authorize the release his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko from a prison hospital.[177] She had been imprisoned since 2011, in what many saw as political payback by Yanukovych. Her release had been an unmet condition for Ukraine's signing of a European Union trade pact.[178]

Arch rival's release

Yanukovych was disowned by the Party of Regions. In a statement issued by Oleksandr Yefremov, parliamentary faction leader, the party and its members "strongly condemn[ed] the criminal orders that led to human victims, an empty state treasury, huge debts, shame before the eyes of the Ukrainian people and the entire world."[174][175][176]

Disavowal by party

According to Daisy Sindelar from Radio Free Europe, the impeachment may have not followed the procedure provided by the constitution enacted during Yanukovych's administration: "[I]t is not clear that the hasty February 22 vote upholds constitutional guidelines, which call for a review of the case by Ukraine's Constitutional Court and a three-fourths majority vote by the Verkhovna Rada -- i.e., 338 lawmakers." The vote, as analyzed by Sindelar, had ten votes less than those required by the constitutional guidelines. However, Sindelar noted in the same article that, "That discrepancy may soon become irrelevant, with parliament expected to elect a new prime minister no later than February 24." The decision to remove Yanukovich was supported by 328 deputies.[1][15][16][18][173]

Alleged procedural insufficiency

Yanukovych maintains that his replacement was a coup and has continued to make statements from an official perspective.[171][172]

Two days later Ukraine's parliament dismissed five judges of the Constitutional Court for allegedly violating their oaths, who were then investigated for alleged malpractice.[170]

On 22 February 2014, 328 of 447 members of the Ukrainian parliament (MPs)—or about 73% of the MPs—voted to "remove Viktor Yanukovych from the post of president of Ukraine" on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his duties[13] and to hold early presidential elections on 25 May.[15][13][18][19][20] The vote came an hour after Yanukovych said in a televised address that he would not resign. He subsequently declared himself to still be "the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state elected in a free vote by Ukrainian citizens".[22]

Parliamentary vote

Removal from presidency

In 2012, during the Ukrainian parliamentary elections of that year, Yanukovych's party of Regions won the poll with 30% against 25.5% for imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party.[169]

Results of the 2012 parliamentary election. Yanukovych's Party of Regions in blue.

2012 parliamentary elections

On 22 April 2010, Yanukovych stated he did not rule out the possibility of holding a referendum on the stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine after the necessary legislative framework is adopted for this in future. Yanukovych did plan to hold plebiscites also on other subjects.[167] Opposition members accused Yanukovych of "selling out national interests".[168] According to Yanukovych the main priority of his foreign policy is to integrate Ukraine "into the European mainstream", while improving relations with Russia.[168] According to Yanukovych the only way out of holding the state budget deficit down, as requested by the International Monetary Fund, while protecting pensioners and minimal wages was to extend the Russian Navy lease in Crimea in exchange for cheaper natural gas.[168]

On 21 April 2010 in Kharkiv, Yanukovych and Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, signed the 2010 Ukrainian–Russian Naval Base for Natural Gas treaty, whereby the Russian lease on naval facilities in Crimea would be extended beyond 2017 by 25 years with an additional 5-year renewal option (to 2042–47) in exchange for a multi-year discounted contract to provide Ukraine with Russian natural gas. This treaty was approved by both the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments (Verkhovna Rada) on 27 April 2010.[166]

Signing documents with President Dmitry Medvedev

Crimea naval base

As president, Yanukovych stated in early February 2010 that he would support the freedom of speech of journalists and protect their interests.[158] In general he wants the civil society to be involved in government policy making.[159] During spring 2010 Ukrainian journalists and Reporters Without Borders complained of censorship by Yanukovych's Presidential Administration; despite statements by Yanukovych how deeply he values press freedom and that ‘free, independent media that must ensure society’s unimpeded access to information.’[160] Anonymous journalists stated early May 2010 that they were voluntarily tailoring their coverage so as not to offend the Yanukovych administration and the Azarov Government.[161] The Azarov Government,[162] the Presidential Administration and Yanukovych himself denied being involved with censorship.[163][164] In a press conference 12 May 2010 President Yanukovych’s representative in the Verkhovna Rada Yury Miroshnychenko stated that Yanukovych is against political repression for criticism of the regime.[165]

2014 Press Freedom Index[157]

Ukraine moved from "noticeable problems" 89th place in 2009, to "difficult situation" 126th place in 2013

Press censorship allegation

President Yanukovych and the Party of Regions have been accused of trying to create a "controlled democracy" in Ukraine and as a means to this are trying to "destroy" main opposition party BYuT, but both have denied these charges.[139][140][140][141][142][143][144][145][146][147][148][149] One frequently cited example of Yankukovych's attempts to centralize power is the 2011 sentencing of Yulia Tymoshenko, which has been condemned by Western governments as potentially being politically motivated.[150][151] Other high-profile political opponents currently under criminal investigation include Leonid Kuchma,[152] Bogdan Danilishin, Igor Didenko,[153] Anatoliy Makarenko,[154] and Valeriy Ivaschenko.[155] According to Yanukovych (on 4 February 2011), "[M]any lies [have been] told and attempts made to misinform the international community and ordinary people in Ukraine about the true state of affairs in the country." He also stated, "[A] crushing blow delivered under [my] rule to corruption and bureaucracy has been met with resistance".[96] He stated in February 2012 that the trial of Tymoshenko and other former officials "didn't meet European standards and principles".[156]

Alleged attempt to remove opposition

On 22 November 2010, the European Council and Ukraine announced "an action plan for Ukraine toward the establishment of a visa-free regime for short-stay travel".[81] In May 2011, Yanukovych stated that he will strive for Ukraine to join the EU.[136] Yanukovych's stance towards integration with the EU has, according to The Economist, led him to be "seen in Moscow as a traitor", a reversal of the 2004 presidential election where Moscow openly supported Yanukovych.[137][138]

On 3 June 2010, the Ukrainian parliament excluded, in a bill written by Yanukovych, with 226 votes, Ukrainian membership of any military bloc, but allowed for co-operation with military alliances such as NATO.[133][134] A day later Yanukovych stated that the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Kosovo violates international law, "I have never recognized Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Kosovo's independence. This is a violation of international law".[135]

During his second foreign visit to Moscow in March, Yanukovych vowed to end years of acrimony with Russia, saying that ties between Russia and Ukraine "should never be the way they were for the past five years". He indicated that he was open to compromise with Russia on the Black Sea Fleet's future (this led to the April 2010 Ukrainian–Russian Naval Base for Natural Gas treaty), and reiterated that Ukraine would remain a "European, non-aligned state", referring to NATO membership.[130] Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (April 2010[131]) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (June 2010[132]) soon stated they noticed a big improvement in relations with Ukraine since Yanukovych's presidency.

Yanukovych's first foreign visit was to Brussels to visit the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the EU Foreign Affairs chief, Catherine Ashton.[75][128] During the visit Yanukovych stated that there would be no change to Ukraine's status as a member of the NATO outreach program.[129]

Barack Obama talks with President Viktor Yanukovych during a pull aside at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit at the Coex Center in Seoul
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is greeted by Yanukovych in Kiev, Ukraine, 2 July 2010

Foreign policy

Social benefit cuts for Chernobyl rescue workers, small business owners and veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan caused fierce protests in Kiev in October/November 2011 by several thousand protesters.[86][127]

Chernobyl workers' benefits cut

Social policy

In a late July 2013 speech Yanukovych stated: "All [126]


Effective in August 2012, a new law on regional languages entitles any local language spoken by at least a 10% minority be declared official within that area.[123] On 23 February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, a bill was passed by the parliament which would have abolished the law on regional languages, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels.[124] This bill was blocked by acting President Turchynov, until a replacement bill is ready.[125]

Yanukovych stated in the past that he wanted Russian to become the second state language in Ukraine.[119] Currently Ukrainian is the only official language of Ukraine. According to one Russian poll, Russian is more spoken in daily communications in Ukraine than Ukrainian.[120] On the other hand, he stated at a meeting with Taras Shevchenko National Prize winners in Kiev on 9 March 2010 that "Ukraine will continue to promote the Ukrainian language as its only state language".[121] In a newspaper interview during the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election campaign, he stated that the status of Russian in Ukraine "is too politicized" and said that if elected President in 2010 he would "have a real opportunity to adopt a law on languages, which implements the requirements of the European Charter of regional languages". He said that this law would need 226 votes in the Ukrainian parliament (half of the votes instead of two-thirds of the votes needed to change the constitution of Ukraine) and that voters told him that the current status of Russian in Ukraine created "problems in the hospital, school, university, in the courts, in the office".[122]

Russian as an official language

Yanukovych's stance on the Holodomor is: "Holodomor took place, was denounced and the international society gave an evaluation of the famine, but it was never labeled as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. Ukraine's attempts to do so by blaming one of our neighbors are unjust."[116] "The Holodomor was in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It was the result of the policies of Stalin's totalitarian regime."[117] In 2003 he supported then President Leonid Kuchma’s position that the Holodomor famine was genocide against Ukrainians.[118] Yanukovych's press service claims that he does not approve of crimes of the KGB and their predecessors in Soviet times, however, in 2002 he wrote in a book endorsing the KGB and its predecessors, stating that the NKVD and Cheka "firmly stood on guard over the interests of our people and the state" and praised them for launching "a struggle against political extremism, sabotage and criminal activities."[118]

The Soviet famine of 1932–33, called Holodomor in Ukrainian, claimed up to 10 million Ukrainian lives as peasants' food stocks were forcibly removed by Stalin's regime via the NKVD secret police.[115]

Yanukovych and then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 17 May 2010 near Memorial to the Holodomor Victims in Kiev.

Yanukovych has stated that his "aim and dream" is a unification of Ukraine, although in his opinion "there are already no borders between the East and West of the country today".[112] Yanukovych wants to create a free trade zone and visa regime with the EU as soon as possible. Prospects for Ukraine's joining the European Union first depend on a political decision of the European Union, according to Yanukovych.[113] Yanukovych noted the importance of finding ways of reconciliation between Ukrainians fighting on opposite sides in World War II in his speech at the ceremony to mark Victory Day 2013.[114] In this speech he also expressed confidence that Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism of the past would never return.[114]

East/West Ukraine unification

Cultural policy

During the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit Yanukovych announced that Ukraine would give up its 90-kilogram stock of highly enriched uranium and convert its research reactors from highly enriched to low-enriched uranium. It intends to accomplish these goals by 2012.[111]

Before the beginning of the Nuclear Security Summit with President of France Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev.
Downgrading uranium stock

According to Yanukovych, relations between Ukraine and Russia in the gas sector were to be built "according to the rules of the market".[55][106] He saw the gas agreement signed in 2009 after the 2009 Russia-Ukraine gas dispute as very unprofitable for Ukraine and wants to "initiate the discussion of the most urgent gas issues" after the 2010 presidential election.[83] Yanukovych has promised before his election as Ukrainian President to "solve the issue" concerning the Russian Black Sea Fleet, currently stationed in the Ukrainian port Sevastopol, "in a way so that the interests of Russia or Ukraine would not be harmed".[107] This led to the April 2010 Ukrainian–Russian Naval Base for Natural Gas treaty. Yanukovych had also promised to create a consortium that would allow Russia to jointly operate Ukraine's gas transportation network and he has pledged to help Russia build the South Stream natural gas pipeline.[108] As of June 2010 both did not happen. Yanukovych rejected accusations that improvement of Ukrainian-Russian relations harmed relations with the European Union. "Our policy is directed to protection of our national interests. We do not live in a fairy tale and understand that our partners also defend their interests".[109] In February 2012 Yanukovych stated, referring to relations with Russia, "It is not wise to fall asleep next to a big bear".[110]

Russian gas

Energy policy

Yanukovych Party of Regions wants to increase social benefits, and raise salaries and pensions.[103] In late 2009, a law that raised the minimum wage and pensions was passed in the Ukrainian Parliament. As a result of this, the International Monetary Fund suspended its 2008–2009 Ukrainian financial crisis emergency lending programme. According to the IMF, the law breached promises to control spending. During the 2010 presidential campaign Yanukovych had stated he would stand by this particular law.[104] According to Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc member of parliament Oleh Shevchuk, Yanukovych broke this election promise just three days after the 2010 presidential election when only two lawmakers of Yanukovych's Party of Regions supported a bill to raise pensions for low-incomes.[105]

Domestic spending vs. debt

On 30 November 2010 Yanukovych vetoed a new tax code made by the Azarov Government and earlier approved by the Verkhovna Rada but protested against in rallies across Ukraine (one of the largest protests since the 2004 Orange Revolution).[99][100][101] Yanukovych signed an new Tax Code on 3 December 2010.[102]

Tax code

Financial policy

Amid controversy Ukrainian lawmakers formed a new coalition on 11 March 2010 which included Bloc Lytvyn, Communist Party of Ukraine and Party of Regions that led to the Azarov Government.[97] 235 deputies from the 450-member parliament signed the coalition agreement.[98]

President Yanukovych in Warsaw 4 February 2011, speaking about Ukrainian corruption and cronyism

"Bureaucracy and corruption are today hiding behind democratic slogans in Ukraine. The Ukrainian nation is wise and it will understand. Because a small handful of people, who have been plundering the country for 20 years is only a handful, from which the whole society, the whole state and our image in the world have been suffering. The interest of the Ukrainian nation is that the practice was put an end to... The country has to change. We need to reverse our approaches 180 degrees, and we will do it. The Ukrainian nation stimulates us to."[96]

Domestic policy

During the 2011 World Economic Forum Yanukovych called Ukraine "one of the leaders on democratic development in Eastern Europe".[95]

On 25 June 2010, President Yanukovych criticised 2004 amendments in the Ukrainian Constitution which weakened presidential powers such as control over naming government ministers, passing those functions to parliament.[94]

Presidential powers of appointment

In May 2012, Yanukovych set up the Constitutional Assembly of Ukraine, a special auxiliary agency under the President for drawing up bills of amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine; the President then can table them in parliament.[93]

Constitutional assembly

For 2012 Yanukovych predicted "social standards will continue to grow" and "improvement of administrative services system will continue".[87][88][89] Yanukovich announced $2 billion worth of pension and other welfare increases on 7 March 2012.[90][91][92]

2012 Presidential predictions

In early November 2011, Yanukovych claimed that "arms are being bought in the country and armed attacks on government agencies are being prepared."[86] These claims were met with disbelief.[86]

Yanukovych said, "Ukraine's integration with the EU remains our strategic aim", with a "balanced policy, which will protect our national interests both on our eastern border – I mean with Russia – and of course with the European Union".[81][82] According to Yanukovych, Ukraine must be a "Neutral state" which should be part of a "collective defence system which the European Union, NATO and Russia will take part in." Yanukovych wants Ukraine to "neither join NATO nor the CSTO".[83] He stated on 7 January 2010 that Ukraine is ready to consider an initiative by Dmitry Medvedev on the creation of a new Europe collective security system[83] stating "And we're ready to back Russia's and France's initiatives".[84] Yanukovych stated during the 2010 presidential election-campaign that the current level of Ukraine's cooperation with NATO is sufficient and that the question of the country's accession to the alliance is therefore not urgent.[84] "The Ukrainian people don't currently support Ukraine's entry to NATO and this corresponds to the status that we currently have. We don't want to join any military bloc".[84] On 27 May 2010 President Yanukovych stated he considered Ukraine's relations with NATO as a partnership, "And Ukraine can't live without this [partnership], because Ukraine is a large country".[85]

On new alliances

On 3 March 2010, Yanukovych suspended his membership in the Party of Regions as he was barred by the Constitution from heading a political party while president,[79] and handed over leadership in the party and its parliamentary faction to Mykola Azarov.[80]

First days

The event was attended by many foreign dignitaries.[78]

Yanukovych's immediate predecessor, Yushchenko, did not attend the ceremony, nor did the Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, and her party, Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko.[77]

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus at Yanukovych's invitation conducted a public prayer service at Kiev Pechersk Lavra before Yanukovych's presidential inauguration.[73] Patriarch Kirill also attended the inauguration[74] along with High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, United States National Security Advisor James Jones and speaker of the Russian parliament Boris Gryzlov.[75][76]

Ukraine's parliament had (on 16 February) fixed 25 February 2010 for the inauguration of Yanukovych as president.[70] Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree endorsing a plan of events related to Yanukovych's inauguration on 20 February 2010.[71] Yushchenko also congratulated and wished Yanukovych "to defend Ukrainian interests and democratic traditions" at the presidential post.[72]


Presidency (2010–2014)

Early vote returns from the first round of the election held on 17 January showed Yanukovych in first place with 35.8% of the vote.[67] He faced a 7 February 2010 runoff against Tymoshenko, who finished second (with 24.7% of the vote). After all ballots were counted, the Ukrainian Central Election Commission declared that Yanukovych won the runoff election with 48.95% of the vote compared with 45.47% for Tymoshenko.[68] Tymoshenko withdrew her subsequent legal challenge of the result.[69]

On 11 December 2009, Yanukovych called for his supporters go to Maidan Nezalezhnosti Kiev's Independence Square in case of election fraud.[66]

Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko accused Yanukovych of financial fraud during the campaign.[64] Yanukovych's campaign was expected to have cost $100 to $150 million.[65]

In 2009, Yanukovych announced his intent to run for President in the upcoming presidential election.[61] He was endorsed by the Party of Regions[62] and the Youth Party of Ukraine.[63]

Viktor Yanukovych (Second round) – percentage of total national vote (48.95%)
Viktor Yanukovych (First round) – percentage of total national vote (35.33%)
Supporters of Viktor Yanukovych in Dnipropetrovsk, December 2009

Presidential campaign and election

On 25 May 2007, Viktor Yanukovych was assigned the post of appointed chairman of the Government Chiefs Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[60]

[42][41] In 2006 a criminal charge was made for the falsification of documents regarding the retraction of Yanukovych's prior conviction. According to

In January 2006, the 2006 parliamentary election.[57] However, the latter statement was corrected within days by Lutsenko himself who conceded that the outcome of the investigation into the legality of the Yanukovych's acquittal could not affect his eligibility to run for the parliament seat since the deprivation of his civil rights due to the past convictions would have expired anyway due to the statute of limitations.[58][59] Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions won the 2006 Ukrainian parliamentary election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Prime Minister Yanukovych during a visit to Kiev (22 December 2006).

2006–2007 elections and second premiership

In 2005 the Party of Regions signed a collaboration agreement with the Russian political party United Russia.[54] In 2008 Yanukovych spoke at a congress of the United Russia party.[55][56]

In October 2004, Ukrainian deputy Hryhory Omelchenko accused Yanukovych of having been a member of "a group of individuals who brutally beat and raped a woman, but bought off the victim and the criminal case was closed".[53] The press-service of the Ukrainian Cabinet asserted that Yanukovych suffered for the attempt to defend a girl from hooligans.

Following his electoral defeat in 2004, Yanukovych led the main opposition party against the Tymoshenko government made up of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, and Oleksandr Moroz's Socialist Party. This government was marred by growing conflict between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. Yanukovych's Party of Regions support allowed for the establishment of Yuriy Yekhanurov's government in late 2005.

After the Orange Revolution

After the election, the Ukrainian parliament passed a non-binding motion of no confidence in Yanukovych's government, urging outgoing President Leonid Kuchma to dismiss Yanukovych and appoint a caretaker government. Five days after his electoral defeat, Yanukovych declared his resignation from the post of Prime Minister. In November 2009 Yanukovych stated that he conceded defeat only to avoid violence. "I didn't want mothers to lose their children and wives their husbands. I didn't want dead bodies from Kiev to flow down the Dnipro. I didn't want to assume power through bloodshed."[52]

In 2004, as the electoral fraud. The second round of the election was subsequently annulled by the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and in the repeated run-off, Yanukovych lost to Yushchenko with 44.2 percent to Yushchenko's 51.9 percent.[51]

Viktor Yanukovych (Final round) – percentage of total national vote
Viktor Yanukovych (Second round) – percentage of total national vote
Viktor Yanukovych (First round) – percentage of total national vote

2004 presidential campaign

In foreign affairs, Yanukovych's cabinet was considered to be politically close to Iraq War in support of the United States' War on Terrorism.

President Leonid Kuchma appointed Yanukovych to the post of Prime Minister following Anatoliy Kinakh's resignation.[48] Yanukovych began his term as Prime Minister on 21 November 2002 following a 234-vote confirmation in the Verkhovna Rada, eight more than needed.[49][50]

Prime Minister (2002–2004)

Yanukovych's political career began when he was appointed as a Vice-Head of Donetsk Oblast Administration in August 1996. On 14 May 1997 he was appointed as the Head of the Administration (i.e. Governor).[47]

Political career: 1996–2010

In July 1974, Yanukovych enrolled at the Donetsk Polytechnic Institute. In 1976, as a second-year student, he was promoted to director of a small trucking division within the Ordzhonikidzeugol coal mining company.[45] In 1980, immediately upon graduating as an automobile mechanical engineer, Yanukovych was appointed chief manager of a transportation company in Yenakiieve and admitted to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[46] His appointment as the chief manager marked the start of his managerial career as a regional transport executive, a position in which he served for two decades.[28]

In 1971 Yanukovych married Lyudmyla[43] (née Nastenko) who was a niece of Yenakiyeve city judge Oleksandr Sazhyn.[44]

On 15 December 1967, at the age of 17, Yanukovych was sentenced to three years incarceration for participating in a robbery and assault.[41] On 8 June 1970, he was convicted for a second time on charges of assault. He was sentenced to two years of imprisonment and did not appeal against the verdict. Decades later, Yanukovych characterized his arrests and incarceration as "mistakes of youth".[42]

[39] Those rumors became more realistic after some documents showed that Fedir (Fyodor) Yanukovych until 1944 lived in Belarus.[40][39]

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