Yanukovych, Viktor Fedorovych

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Yanukovych, Viktor Fedorovych

Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych (vēk´tôr yänōōkō´vĬch), 1950–, Ukrainian politician, president of Ukraine (2010–14). The graduate of a mining college and a polytechnic institute (1980), he was a mechanical engineer and member of the Soviet Communist party, and became manager of a transportation company. After Ukrainian independence (1991), he was named (1997) governor of the Donetsk region, and in 2002 was appointed prime minister by President Leonid Kuchma. Yanukovych increased both state control of the economy and social spending. Two years later, as leader of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, he was Kuchma's chosen candidate for president, running against opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. Although Yushchenko led after the first round, Yanukovych was proclaimed the winner after the Nov., 2004, runoff. Yushchenko's supporters poured into the streets of Kiev to protest the results, launching Ukraine's "Orange Revolution." The supreme court eventually nullified the vote, and the runoff was reheld in December, when Yanukovych lost. In 2006, however, he reemerged as a powerful and skillful opponent to Yushchenko when he forged a majority coalition in the wake of parliamentary elections and became prime minister. New elections in 2007, however, gave a narrow majority to the remaining "Orange coalition" parties, and Yanukovych and his party went into the opposition. He won the first round of the presidential election in 2010, and then won a runoff against Yulia Tymoshenko, but failed to garner a majority. His election quickly led to reduced tensions with Russia and, in exchange for a reduced price for Russian natural gas, Yanukovich extended Russia's lease on the Sevastopol naval base by 25 years. In late 2013 his decision to reject an association agreement with the European Union (in favor of Russian aid) sparked antigovernment demonstrations that led in Feb., 2014, to the collapse of his government; Yanukovych fled to Russia. Subsequently, the new government found that the treasury had been looted and other evidence of pervasive corruption during Yanukovych's term of office.

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