Leonid Kravchuk
Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk (born January 10, 1934) is a Ukrainian
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 politician, the first President of Ukraine serving from December 5, 1991 until his resignation on July 19, 1994, a former Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada
The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's unicameral parliament. The speaker presides over the parliament and its procedures. They are elected by secret ballot from the parliament's deputy ranks...

 and People's Deputy of Ukraine serving in the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) faction.

After a political crisis involving the President and the Prime Minister, Kravchuk resigned from the Presidency, but ran for a second term as President in 1994
Ukrainian presidential election, 1994
The Ukrainian presidential election, 1994 was held on June 26, 1994 and July 10, 1994. The presidential election was ahead of schedule, following a political compromise between the President and Parliament...

. He was defeated by his former Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

, Leonid Kuchma
Leonid Kuchma
Leonid Danylovych Kuchma was the second President of independent Ukraine from 19 July 1994, to 23 January 2005. Kuchma took office after winning the 1994 presidential election against his rival, incumbent Leonid Kravchuk...

, who served as President for two terms. After his presidency, he was active in Ukrainian politics, serving as a People's Deputy of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada and the leader of Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united)'s parliamentary group (from 2002 to 2006). He is currently politically inactive.


Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk was born in 1934 in the village of Velykyi Zhytyn (Żytyń Wielki) in a peasant family. At that time the village was located in Aleksandrija gmina, Rowno powiat in Poland. The village became part of Rivne Oblast
Rivne Oblast
Rivne Oblast is an oblast of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Rivne. The area of the region is 20,100 km²; its population is 1.2 million...

 in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic after the Soviet invasion in 1939 when he was a child. His father served in Polish cavalry in 1930s, later he and his wife worked for the local osadnik
Osadniks was the Polish loanword used in Soviet Union for veterans of the Polish Army that were given land in the Kresy territory ceded to Poland by Polish-Soviet Riga Peace Treaty of 1921 .-Colonization process:Shortly before the battle of Warsaw on August 7, 1920, the Premier of Poland,...

s (Polish colonists). During the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the father of Kravchuk perished on the front-lines.

He joined the Communist Party of Ukraine in 1958 and rose through the ranks of the party and its agitprop
Agitprop is derived from agitation and propaganda, and describes stage plays, pamphlets, motion pictures and other art forms with an explicitly political message....

department. He became a member of the Ukrainian Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

 in 1989, and on 23 July 1990 was elected Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada
The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's unicameral parliament. The speaker presides over the parliament and its procedures. They are elected by secret ballot from the parliament's deputy ranks...

 in effect becoming the head of state of the Ukrainian SSR and its most powerful politician.

After the 19-21 August 1991 Soviet coup attempt Kravchuk resigned from the Communist Party, and on 24 August 1991 declared Ukraine independent from the USSR. By doing so he became the first head of state of newly independent Ukraine. Later that year, on 5 December 1991 he was elected to the new position of President of Ukraine
President of Ukraine
Prior to the formation of the modern Ukrainian presidency, the previous Ukrainian head of state office was officially established in exile by Andriy Livytskyi. At first the de facto leader of nation was the president of the Central Rada at early years of the Ukrainian People's Republic, while the...

 after Ukraine's first presidential elections
Ukrainian presidential election, 1991
The Ukrainian presidential election, 1991 was the first presidential election held in Ukraine following independence from the Soviet Union. The election was contested on December 1, 1991, with all six candidates campaigning in support of Ukrainian independence...


Political portrait

Leonid Kravchuk's political creed is avoiding conflicts and straightforward declaration of his position. He is widely considered to be cunning, diplomatic, and cautious. He describes himself as a man who refuses to take an umbrella because he hopes to "slip between the raindrops." (in interview by Yulia Lytvynenko at Poza ochi on Inter
Inter (TV channel)
Inter is the major TV channel in Ukraine. Based on it later was formed the whole new media group with variety of different other channels. Inter is among the top-rated networks in Ukraine, competing with such as 1+1 and Pershyi Natsionalnyi channels...

 (Ukraine), 2009)

Such diplomacy helped Kravchuk to retain and strengthen his power over Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 during the transition from Soviet rule to independence. He was third in command in Ukraine's CPSU
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 leadership before the fall of Soviet Union even though he didn't belong to the ruling Dnipropetrovsk
Dnipropetrovsk or Dnepropetrovsk formerly Yekaterinoslav is Ukraine's third largest city with one million inhabitants. It is located southeast of Ukraine's capital Kiev on the Dnieper River, in the south-central region of the country...

 group. He avoided inflexible positions towards democratic changes and was a compromise figure for both party conservatives
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 and reformists.

After becoming president of independent Ukraine, Kravchuk successfully attempted to achieve and strengthen formal sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 of the country and develop its relations with the West. He withstood enormous pressure from Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and refused to retain the common armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 and currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 inside the Commonwealth of Independent States
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

. The status of the Russian Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

's presence in Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

 and the Crimea was not resolved by a 20-year lease agreement until 1997, three years after Kravchuk left office. Another of his stands was the refusal of nuclear weapons based on Ukrainian territory. He was one of few country leaders who agreed to surrender Ukraine's nuclear arsenal.

During his leadership the government of Ukraine's economic policy was often criticized. He failed to avoid corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 in the privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 of the country's industry and promote effective financial
FINANCIAL is the weekly English-language newspaper with offices in Tbilisi, Georgia and Kiev, Ukraine. Published by Intelligence Group LLC, FINANCIAL is focused on opinion leaders and top business decision-makers; It's about world’s largest companies, investing, careers, and small business. It is...

 decisions. Ukrainian annual inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 rates from 1992 to 1994 reached thousands of percents. Millions of loans given by the semi-government banks defaulted. This led to delays of many years in salaries for industry workers, teachers, etc. The collapse of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 Steamship Company became the saddest symbol of the Kravchuk era. This global merchant fleet, the largest in the world (based mostly in Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

), was covertly sold out to foreign companies, mostly for fake debts. Hundreds of sailors who had not received their salaries were trapped for years on board their vessels throughout the world. Kravchuk's own son was later accused of taking part in this fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...


Shocked by these developments and also by growing tensions with Russia, the voters of industrial and predominantly Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

-speaking southeastern Ukraine supported Kravchuk's main rival, Leonid Kuchma
Leonid Kuchma
Leonid Danylovych Kuchma was the second President of independent Ukraine from 19 July 1994, to 23 January 2005. Kuchma took office after winning the 1994 presidential election against his rival, incumbent Leonid Kravchuk...

, in the 1994 presidential elections. Kuchma won under the slogan
A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a political, commercial, religious and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose. The word slogan is derived from slogorn which was an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm . Slogans vary from the written and the...

s of fighting corruption, reconstruction of the economy, and further integration with Russia. Kravchuk's reliance on bureaucratic pressure, support of pro-Western nationalists, and media bias
Media bias
Media bias refers to the bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media in the selection of events and stories that are reported and how they are covered. The term "media bias" implies a pervasive or widespread bias contravening the standards of journalism, rather than the...

 did not serve him well.

Soon after his defeat in 1994, Leonid Kravchuk joined the powerful business and political group known as Kiev Holding or the Dynamo Group. This group, led by oligarch
Oligarch may refer to:* A member of an oligarchy, a form of government* Business oligarch* Russian oligarch...

s Viktor Medvedchuk
Viktor Medvedchuk
Viktor Volodymyrovich Medvedchuk is a Ukrainian politician, lawyer, and business oligarch.-Brief overview:In 1998–2001, Medvedchuk was the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada . In 2002–04, Medvedchuk served as head of Leonid Kuchma's presidential administration...

 and Hryhoriy Surkis
Hryhoriy Surkis
Hryhoriy Surkis is a Ukrainian businessman and politician. Surkis is the president of Football Federation of Ukraine....

, is formally organized as the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united). Despite its formal centrist/social-democratic slogans, the party is widely associated with big business, organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

, corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, and media bias in favor of former President Kuchma. In 2004, Surkis was banned from visiting the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, due to his alleged involvement in irregularities during the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004
Ukrainian presidential election, 2004
The Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 was held on October 31, November 21 and December 26, 2004. The election was the fourth presidential election to take place in Ukraine following independence from the Soviet Union...

. The group also took a strongly pro-Russian and anti-Western stand. Analysts say that TV channels and other media controlled by the group have started a sharp anti-U.S./anti-NATO campaign.

Kravchuk has been highly criticized for remaining one of the leaders of SDPU(o), specializing in negotiations and public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

, despite his declared pro-democratic and patriotic position.

During the 2004 presidential elections
Ukrainian presidential election, 2004
The Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 was held on October 31, November 21 and December 26, 2004. The election was the fourth presidential election to take place in Ukraine following independence from the Soviet Union...

 Kravchuk actively supported the candidacy of Viktor Yanukovych
Viktor Yanukovych
Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych is a Ukrainian politician who has been the President of Ukraine since February 2010.Yanukovych served as the Governor of Donetsk Oblast from 1997 to 2002...

 and was a member of the Yanukovych team that negotiated with the opposition in the aftermath of that disputed election. In November 2004 he told the media that he was afraid that the resulting crisis would cause the disintegration of the country, intensifying movements for certain regions of Ukraine to join other countries.

On September 25, 2009, Kravchuk declared during an interview with the newspaper Den that he left the Social-Democratic Party (United) and became unaffiliated again. He explained this based on the fact that his former party decided to join the election bloc of left and central left political forces to run for the 2010 presidential elections
Ukrainian presidential election, 2010
The Ukrainian presidential election of 2010 is Ukraine's fifth presidential election since declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The first round was held on January 17, 2010...

. He also was indignant due to the fact that the political council of the party decided to accomplish that behind the closed doors in non-democratic order. He called the block as the artificial union without any perspectives. Kravchuk endorsed
Political endorsement
Political endorsement is the action of publicly declaring one's personal or group's support of a candidate for elected office.In the case of a 4 or 5 party system, where one of the parties has a 15 to 20% predicted electoral support, just prior to the election, the official representative of the...

 Yulia Tymoshenko
Yulia Tymoshenko
Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko , née Grigyan , born 27 November 1960, is a Ukrainian politician. She was the Prime Minister of Ukraine from 24 January to 8 September 2005, and again from 18 December 2007 to 4 March 2010. She placed third in Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful...

 during the 2010 presidential elections campaign. During the 2010 election campaign he accused incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko
Viktor Yushchenko
Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko is a former President of Ukraine. He took office on January 23, 2005, following a period of popular unrest known as the Orange Revolution...

 of having "turned into Yanukovych's aide. He has actually turned into an also-ran. His task is to slander Yulia Tymoshenko every day and prevent her from winning [the presidential elections]". Kravchuk explained his shift in support from Yanukovych to Tymoshenko was caused because he felt Yanukovych "turned his back" on all the issues Kravchuk wanted him to address as president: the Ukrainian language
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

, culture and the Holodomor
The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of...

. Only the dead or the stupid do not change their views, he stated in December 2009 when he also voiced the opinion that voting for Yanukovych in the second round of the 2010 elections will indicate one’s anti-Ukrainian position.

Major issues of presidency

  • About the creation of the State Customs Committee of Ukraine (the very first Presidential decree) - establishing the State Customs Committee
  • About the Armed Forces of Ukraine - establishing that the Minister of Defense is subordinated directly to the President of Ukraine
  • About accepting the duties as the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of Ukraine
  • About the Administration of the President of Ukraine
  • About the creation of the State export-import bank of Ukraine
  • For providing security for higher officials of Ukraine - establishing the Directory of the State Security
  • About the creation of the Ukrainian-German Fund
  • About the State Duma of Ukraine
  • About the Higher Attestation Commission of Ukraine
  • About the creation of the National Space Agency of Ukraine
  • About the protection of the State Border of Ukraine with the Republic of Moldova
  • About the urgent measures in construction of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
  • About the declaration for the local state administration
  • About a ministry of Ukraine
  • About the Memory Book of Ukraine
  • About the announcement of June 12, 1992 as the day of mourning
  • About the Doctor's Oath
  • About the Council of National Security of Ukraine
  • About the participation of Ukraine in studying of Antarctica
  • About the liquidation of the Kiev Military District

Force apparat

  • Valeriy Hubenko - Head of State Committee for State Border Security (1991)
  • Mykhailo Haiduk - Head of the Directory for security of the higher officials of Ukraine (1991)
  • Lieutenant-General Valentin Boryskin - Commander of the Kiev Military District
  • Lieutenant-General Vitaliy Radetsky - Commander of the Odessa Military District
  • Lieutenant-General Valeriy Stepanov - Commander of the Transcarpathian Military District (later fired)
  • Contre-Admiral
    Rear Admiral
    Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

     Borys Kozhyn - Commander of Navy of Ukraine
  • Lieutenant-General Valeriy Vasyliev - Commander of Air Force of Ukraine
  • Lieutenant-General Mykhailo Lopatin - Commander of Anti-Air Defense of Ukraine
  • Major-General Henndiy Kolodia - Commander of the 17th Air Army
  • Yuriy Syemushev - Chief of the Main Directory of Government Communication for the Security Service of Ukraine
  • Lieutenant-General Vasyl Sobkov - Commander of the Transcarpathian Military District

Ambassadorial apparat

  • Viktor Batyuk - the Permanent representative of Ukraine in the UN organiztion
  • V.Zheliba - ambassador to Belarus
  • R.Lubkivsky - ambassador to the Czech-Slovak Federation Republic
  • Oleg Bilorus - ambassador to the United States
  • I.Piskovy - ambassador to Germany
  • A.Orel - ambassador to Italy
  • Yuriy Kostenko
    Yuriy Kostenko
    Yuriy Kostenko is a Ukrainian politician and leader of the Ukrainian People's Party.Kostenko holds a Ph.D from the Zaporizhia Institute of Engineering. In 1989, he became one of the founders of Rukh and has been a Member of the Verkhovna Rada since 1990 . In 2002 as a member of Our Ukraine...

     - ambassador to Austria
  • Volodymyr Kryzhanivsky - ambassador to Russia
  • ? - ambassador to Belgium
  • Levko Lukyanenko
    Levko Lukyanenko
    Levko Lukyanenko ; is a Ukrainian politician, and Soviet dissident and Hero of Ukraine.-Biography:Lukyanenko was born on 24 August 1928 in the Khrypivka village of Chernihiv Oblast, in the USSR...

     - ambassador to Canada
  • Serhiy Komisarenko
    Serhiy Komisarenko
    Serhiy Vasylʹovych Komisarenko , born July 9, 1943 in Ufa, Bashkortostan, USSR is a Ukrainian scientist, politician, and diplomat. He was a self-nominated candidate in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, and is chairman of the of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.- Scientific...

     - ambassador to the United Kingdom
  • Heorhiy Khodorovsky - ambassador to India
  • Leontiy Sandulyaka - ambassador to Romania
  • Yuriy Shcherbak - ambassador to Israel
  • Dmytro Tkach - ambassador to Hungary
  • Ihor Turyansky - ambassador to Turkey
  • ? - ambassador to France and permanent representative of Ukraine in UNESCO
  • ? - ambassador to Poland
  • ? - ambassador to Switzerland
  • Viktor Hladush - ambassador to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania
  • Vitaliy Boiko - ambassador to Moldova
  • Kostyantyn Masik - ambassador to Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden

Administrative reform

On February 25, 1992 the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, issued the Presidential decree 98/92 About the changes in the system of central bodies of executive power of Ukraine.


Leonid Kravchuk is the author of books dealing with his career and Politics of Ukraine
Politics of Ukraine
Politics of Ukraine take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet. Legislative power is vested in the parliament...

 (some of them were translated into English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...


Personal life

Kravchuk is married to Antonina Mykhailivna Kravchuk
  • Oleksandr Leonidovych Kravchuk (son), president of the State Company "Nafkom-Ahro" and the former FC Nafkom Brovary
    FC Nafkom Brovary
    FC Nafkom Brovary was a Ukrainian professional team from Brovary in Kiev Oblast.The club was formed in 2001 in Irpen, Kiev Oblast in the name of Nafkom-Akademia under the auspices of the Financial and Commercial Educational Institution that is in Irpen'....

    • three grandchildren – Andrey, Maria and Ylena Kravchuk, Andrey's daughter.

Although Kravchuk does not work for the Ukrainian state anymore he is still living in a state-owned dacha
Dacha is a Russian word for seasonal or year-round second homes often located in the exurbs of Soviet and post-Soviet cities. Cottages or shacks serving as family's main or only home are not considered dachas, although many purpose-built dachas are recently being converted for year-round residence...

 in Koncha-Zaspa
Koncha-Zaspa is a historic neighbourhood in the Holosiiv Raion of the city of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. It is located in the southern part of the city....

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