- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Russian Rabble-Rousing
- Official Title: Former President
- Government: Newly established democracy
- Years Left in Office: To 2015; re-election possible
- Political Classification: Center-right
- Education: BS in Mechanical Engineering, MS in International Law
- Age: 68 (born July 9, 1950)
Viktor Yanukovych Facts and Information
- As of February 22, 2014 Viktor Yanukovych is no longer the President of Ukraine: he was voted out by the State Parliament
- Yanukovych actually has quite the list of criminal convictions
- In 2002, Yanukovych admitted that he had a difficult time speaking Ukrainian.
- He served as the Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2002 to 2004.
- In 2004, Yanukovych was the basis of the Orange Revolution following the 2004 presidential election.
The pro-Russian President of Ukraine, that is now the ex-President of Ukraine and current resident of Russia. Say what? How the heck does that happen in the modern political world? It is a strange story my friends, and here is how it goes…
Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych was born July 9, 1950 into a poor family. His mother died when he was two, and his father passed away when Yanukovych was a teenager. To prepare for his political career, he attended Donetsk Polytechnical Institute to obtain is B.S. in mechanical engineering. Once Ukraine became an independent, sovereign state after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yanukovych got involved in the local government. During this time, Yanukovych became a favorable candidate, and was appointed governor of the Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine. While serving this term as governor, Yanukovych attended Ukrainian Academy of Foreign Trade to obtain his M.A. in international law. Yanukovych wed his wife, Lyudmula Oleksandrivna in November 1971. Together they have 2 sons, Oleksandr and Viktor.
In 2002, the Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma appointed Yanukovych as the Prime Minister of Ukraine, after Anatoily Kinakh resigned. During this time, Yanukovych and his cabinet were considered pro-Russian. They also were avid advocates for Ukrainian membership in the European Union (Where did this go wrong??). However his cabinet did not support Ukrainian membership in NATO. If Ukraine joined NATO, this would really piss off Russia. And one does NOT want to piss of Mother Russia!
After serving as Prime Minister, Yanukovych decided to further his political career, and run for the President of Ukraine. In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko ran against each other in the presidential election. Yanukovych wound up winning, but he didn’t do it honestly. The people of Ukraine decided that there is no way Yanukovych had enough support to win this election, and there was too much Russian influence. They went to the streets and started a peaceful revolution, known as the Orange Revolution of 2004. Basically, the people in Western Ukraine protested the election and the results of it. The Ukrainian Supreme Court gave in and decided to hold a re-election. Turns out, Yanukovych rigged the whole thing! Viktor Yushchenko became the president fair and square, where he named Yulia Tymoshenko his prime minister
During Yushchenko’s presidency, Ukraine kind of turned into a failed state. The economy went down the toilet, Ukraine didn’t have a very good relationship with Russia, crime in Ukraine was rising, and Yushchenko was actually poisoned by the KGB. Would Ukraine have been better off if they never did the re-election and just left Yanukovych as president? After Yanukovych’s latest stunt, it’s probably safe to say that no, Yanukovych wouldn’t have done much better than Yushchenko. Sounds all fair right?
So in the 2010 presidential election, Yanukovych ran as the pro-Russian candidate, and Yulia Tymoshenko ran as the pro-Western candidate. The people of Ukraine figured that since Yushchenko’s time in office was so awful, that they might as well try and give the pro-Russian side of things a shot. Yanukovych didn’t rig this election, and he won it fair and square. If only his presidency stayed that way…
OK, enough of this background noise! What the hell is going on in Ukraine, and what started Yanukovych’s slow downward spiral? Long story short, Yanukovych is one shallow guy.
Yanukovych abused his power, mightily. When he came into office he became terribly corrupt. Like robbing hte state of BILLIONS and putting his friends and relatives in positions of power. As soon as he got into office he started to dis the West. He JAILED Yulia Tymoshenko for charges of corruption! Not only did Yulia have to suffer, Yanukovych pulled more power into himself. (Tymoshenko was released from jail soon after the Ukrainians booted Yanukovych’s ass out of office.) Throughout his presidency, Yanukovych milked 10-12 BILLION dollars out of the Ukrainian government, and put it directly into his own personal bank account. Did you think Yanukovych was a power loving, corrupt jerk before? Yanukovych made a new Ukrainian constitution, which basically proved that he wanted all of the power. His changes to the constitution essentially said that the president of Ukraine could pick his own cabinet, and any other position within the government. This really ticked people off. Yanukovych is corrupt, but Ukraine finally had enough of his crap when Yanukovych decided to throw out all possibilities of Ukraine joining the EU.
In October or November of 2013, the EU started to get serious about a partnership between the EU and Ukraine. This partnership was the first step that would put them on a path for membership. This path wasn’t going to be easy because Ukraine was so screwed up; the EU had to attempt to fix the state before allowing them in. This path would be challenging for Ukraine, but it was necessary before the EU would consider Ukraine for membership. The EU said we want you in, but you have to clean up your act first; your economy is a mess, corruption is rapid, your debt is out of control, you need to restructure, refinance, balance your budget, and stop being the corrupt Ukraine that you are! EU was getting really serious about this deal! The paperwork was completed, and the EU was making copies for everyone. Out of the blue Yanukovych said yeah, no we aren’t interested in doing this. Yanukovych slammed the door on membership in the EU. This is why Yanukovych is in the position he is in right now, A.K.A. hiding while the rest of Ukraine wants his head on a stick.
The protests increasingly became more violent, and were only going to get worse. Yanukovych attempted to cool down the tension by accepting 15 billion dollars from Russia to try and dig the Ukrainian economy out of the toilet. Unfortunately, this didn’t do much and the protests continued to increase. The government had to send in more and more police officers to try and calm things down. Nothing helped the riots, and people were continuously being killed. All hell broke lose when Yanukovych sent in military trained SNIPERS to control the riots. Snipers have one job, and one job only: to kill. Yanukovych originally made a deal with the diplomats of Germany, Poland and Russia to hold an early election, and get rid of the changes that he made to the constitution. This way, Yanukovych could continue his presidency until December, but end it earlier than expected. However, after these snipers were sent in, he had used all of his chances. The people of Ukraine considered him a dictator, and even Yanukovych’s own political party refused to support him any longer. The Parliament of Ukraine said yep, all bets are off, no deal, he’s done immediately. For the time being, there is a substitute president and prime minister, which will remain in office until a new election can be held.
Basically the pro-westerners decided to give Yanukovych a chance, but he screwed up so badly that the pro-westerners were fed up. They decided to impeach his ass. Yanukovych realized that the people he once ruled hated him so much that he actually fled to Eastern Ukraine. Honestly, he didn’t have much of a choice. The protests in Ukraine were so violent, that Yanukovych was bound to be a target of one of these violent acts. Do we know where he is now? No, because if that information was public, I guarantee he would be dead. Word on the street is… He attempted to cross into Russia and was REJECTED.
Yanukovych certainly was corrupt…make that wildly corrupt…and only aided in Ukraine’s spiral downfall. However, there is some controversy over the way he was booted out of office. When Yanukovych won the presidential election in 2010, he did it fairly, and democratically. The way that parliament voted him out of office is seen as un-democratic by Yanukovych supporters. He is out of office, but Ukraine is far from a perfect state. There are those who are glad he’s gone, and others who don’t think it is fair that he’s gone. In all honesty, Ukraine is on the verge of a civil war. Will the end of Yanukovych’s reign be the beginning of the demise of the entire state? Only time can tell…. and it’s not looking good as of April 2014.
It was though this shady internal situation that lead to Russia intervening in Ukraine. Putin argued that, if the pro-western elements violently deposed Yanukovych, and now held power, they could decide to bring harm to pro-Russian peoples who protested the protest. Two regions were particularly pro-Russian, and the center of Putin’s interest. The first was Crimea, the second involved northeast and southeast portions of Ukraine proper.
Sensing the Russian’s imminent moves, the new Ukraine government attempted to negotiate regarding Crimea’s future. Despite this, Russia decided to act on their own, and seized Crimea using military force. Although peaceful in nature, this was an invasion of Ukraine by Russia to annex the Crimean peninsula, home of the Russian Black Fleet. During all this, Yanukovych released statements from Moscow, promoting Putin’s actions and positioning himself for a potential return to power.
This is where we are at the time of this writing. Crimea has been annexed, and declared part of Russia. Ukraine and NATO refuse to acknowledge the annexation, and along with the UN, have condemned the election held within Crimea regarding the succession. However, the Russian military has not demobilized. Yanukovych is still pushing for continued Russian involvement, and portions of Ukraine still retain a pro-Russian majority. Putin overtly promotes the creation of USSR 2.0, and would undoubtable want to bring Ukraine into the fold, a move which the current Ukrainian government and their pro-West supporters would not accept.
A Russian invasion will undoubtedly lead to Ukraine fighting back, and the potential for NATO intervention. Tensions between Russia and the Western powers is at an all-time post-Cold War high. All eyes are now on Russia, and whether or not Putin will risk war with the West to both satisfy Yanukovych, and expand his New Soviet Empire. Things are evolving fast now, or should I say de-volving fast, so only time will tell how much further Ukraine will be splintered apart due to the shenanigans of Yanukovych and his predecessors. But that time may be short, indeed…