Leonid Kravchuk

Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk (Ukrainian: Леонід Макарович Кравчук; born 10 January 1934) is a former Ukrainian politician and the first President of Ukraine, who served from 5 December 1991 until 19 July 1994. He is also a former Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada and People's Deputy of Ukraine serving in the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) faction.

Leonid Kravchuk
Леонід Кравчук
Leonid Kravchuk 2013-06-18.JPG
Kravchuk in 2013
1st President of Ukraine
In office
5 December 1991 – 19 July 1994
Acting: 24 August 1991 – 5 December 1991
Prime MinisterVitold Fokin
Valentyn Symonenko (acting)
Leonid Kuchma
Yukhym Zvyahilsky (acting)
Vitaliy Masol
Preceded byMykola Plaviuk (in exile)1
Succeeded byLeonid Kuchma
1st Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada2
In office
23 July 1990 – 5 December 1991
Preceded byVolodymyr Ivashko
Succeeded byIvan Plyushch
Member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Ukraine
In office
4 June 1988 – 5 December 1990
People's Deputy of Ukraine
In office
15 May 1990 – 5 December 1991
In office
25 September 1994 – 25 May 2006
Faction and Constituency represented in the Verkhovna Rada
1990-1991Communist Party (until August 1991)
Vinnytsia Oblast District No.39[1]
Ternopil Oblast District No.364[2]
1998-2002Social Democratic Party (united), No. 1
Nationwide Party-list[3]
2002-2006Social Democratic Party (united), No. 5
Nationwide Party-list[4]
Personal details
Born (1934-01-10) 10 January 1934 (age 88)
Żytyń, Poland
(now Velykyi Zhytyn, Ukraine)
Political party
Spouse(s)Antonina Mykhailivna Mishura
ResidenceKoncha-Zaspa, Kyiv, Ukraine
Alma materKyiv State University (1958)
Academy of Social Sciences of CPSU (1970)
1Mykola Plaviuk, the 4th President of Ukrainian People's Republic in exile terminated his authority on 22 August 1992 when he formally ceded his authority to Kravchuk recognizing Ukraine as a successor of the Ukrainian People's Republic.

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. He was defeated by his former prime minister Leonid Kuchma who served as president for two terms. After Kravchuk's 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 retired from politics.[5]

At the age of 88, he is the oldest living former Ukrainian president.


Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk was born in 1934 in the village of Velykyi Zhytyn (Żytyń Wielki) to an ethnic Ukrainian peasant family. At that time the village was part of Poland (Second Polish Republic). It became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic after the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 when Kravchuk was a child. His father served in the Polish army during the 1930s, and later he and his wife worked for the local osadniks (Polish colonists). During World War II Kravchuk's father perished on the front lines.

Kravchuk married a mathematics teacher, Antonina Mykhailivna Mishura, in 1957.[6][7] First Lady of the United States from 1989–93, Barbara Bush (wife of the 41st President of the United States George H. W. Bush), described Antonina in her memoirs: "She was the nicest young woman, a math teacher with absolutely no interest in politics".[7]

Kravchuk joined the Communist Party of Ukraine in 1958 and rose through the ranks of the party and of its agitprop department. He became a member of the Ukrainian Communist Party Bureau in 1989, and on 23 July 1990, became Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR, becoming the republic's nominal head of state. On October 24, 1990, the monopoly of the Communist Party of Ukraine on power was abolished, and thus, Kravchuk became not only the nominal, but also the actual head of the republic.

After the 19–21 August 1991 Soviet coup attempt Kravchuk resigned from the Communist Party. After the Verkhovna Rada passed the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine on 24 August, the constitution was amended to create the post of President of Ukraine. Before the vote for the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine Kravchuk was instrumental in persuading the communists parliamentary majority to accept the opposition’s demands of Ukrainian Independence.[8] Following the Act of Declaration of Independence Kravchuk was vested with presidential powers, thus becoming both de facto and de jure head of state. Later that year, on 5 December 1991, voters formally elected him president in Ukraine's first presidential election. On the same day, the voters voted overwhelmingly to secede from the Soviet Union—a move which Kravchuk now fully supported. This made Kravchuk the first head of state of independent Ukraine.

Political portraitEdit

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 (Ukraine), 2009)

Such diplomacy helped Kravchuk to retain and strengthen his power over Ukraine during the transition from Soviet rule to independence. He was third in command in Ukraine's CPSU leadership before the fall of Soviet Union even though he didn't belong to the ruling Dnipropetrovsk group. He avoided inflexible positions towards democratic changes and was a compromise figure for both party conservatives and reformists.

Soon after his defeat in 1994, Kravchuk joined the powerful business and political group known as Kyiv Holding or the Dynamo Group. This group, led by oligarchs Viktor Medvedchuk and Hryhoriy Surkis, 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,[citation needed] corruption, and media bias in favor of former President Kuchma.

In 2004, Surkis was banned from visiting the United States, due to his alleged involvement in irregularities during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election. 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, despite his declared pro-democratic and patriotic position.

During the 2004 presidential elections Kravchuk actively supported the candidacy of Viktor Yanukovych[9] and was a member of the Yanukovych team that negotiated with the opposition in the aftermath of that disputed election.[10] 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 25 September 2009, Kravchuk declared during an interview with the newspaper Den that he left SDPU(o) and became unaffiliated again. He explained this based on the fact that his former party decided to join the Bloc of Left and Center-left Forces to run for the 2010 presidential elections. He 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".[11][12] Kravchuk endorsed Yulia Tymoshenko during the 2010 presidential elections campaign.[13]

During the 2010 election campaign he accused incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko 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]".[14] 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, culture and the Holodomor. "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 would indicate an anti-Ukrainian position.[15]

President of UkraineEdit


On May 6, 1992, Kravchuk met George H. W. Bush in the United States and signed an agreement for the full removal of all nuclear tactical weapons from Ukrainian territory by July 1, and in return obtained a credit line of $110 million dollars to buy American commodities.[16]

During Kravchuk's leadership the government of Ukraine's economic policy was often criticized. He failed to avoid corruption in the privatization of the country's industry and promote effective financial decisions. Ukrainian annual inflation 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 Steamship Company became the largest negative symbol of the Kravchuk era. This global merchant fleet, the largest in the world (based mostly in Odessa), was covertly sold out to foreign companies, mostly for false 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.

Shocked by these developments and also by growing tensions with Russia, the voters of industrial and predominantly Russian-speaking southeastern Ukraine supported Kravchuk's main rival, Leonid Kuchma, in the 1994 presidential elections. Kuchma won under the slogans 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 did not serve him well.

In February 2003, Oleksandr Moroz, the leader of Ukraine’s Socialist Party, charged Kravchuk and other 300 public high-ranked officials as being members of the Freemasons.[17]

Administrative reformEdit

On 25 February 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.[18]

Foreign policyEdit

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin signed the Belavezha Accords, dissolving the Soviet Union, 8 December 1991

After becoming president of independent Ukraine, Kravchuk achieved and strengthened formal sovereignty of the country and developed its relations with the West. The Kravchuk administration walked a tight rope between escalation of Ukrainian–Russian tensions and a policy of cooperation with Moscow. Brinkmanship with Russia in matters of post-Soviet settlement (most notably the fate of nuclear weapons and the Black Sea fleet) was often accompanied by speculation about Ukraine's imminent departure from the Commonwealth of Independent States.

He refused to retain the common armed forces and currency inside the Commonwealth of Independent States. Rather than NATO expansion, Kravchuk wanted Ukraine's participation on an equal footing with the Central European countries, Russia and NATO in building a new, inclusive security architecture for Europe. According to the 'Guidelines for Ukraine's Foreign Policy', approved by parliament on 2 July 1993, 'Ukraine advocates the creation of an all-embracing international system of universal and all-European security and considers participation [therein] a basic component of its national security'.

The status of the Russian Black Sea Fleet's presence in Sevastopol 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.


2014 Kravchuk's stamp of Ukraine
  • 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 Parliament 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[19]
  • About the announcement of 12 June 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 Kyiv Military District


Military and securityEdit



Involvement in the 2014 conflict in UkraineEdit

He has represented Ukraine at the Trilateral Contact Group since July 2020, being appointed to replace Leonid Kuchma.[20][21]

Personal lifeEdit

Kravchuk is married to Antonina Mykhailivna Kravchuk.[7] The couple married in 1957.[6] She rarely attended official events with her husband.[6]

Kravchuk and his wife have one child, Oleksandr Leonidovych Kravchuk (born 1959), president of the State Company "Nafkom-Ahro" and the former FC Nafkom Brovary. Kravchuk has two grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Although Kravchuk does not work for the Ukrainian state anymore he is still living in a state-owned dacha in Koncha-Zaspa.[22]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "People's Deputy of Ukraine of the I convocation". Official portal (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  2. ^ "People's Deputy of Ukraine of the II convocation". Official portal (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  3. ^ "People's Deputy of Ukraine of the III convocation". Official portal (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  4. ^ "People's Deputy of Ukraine of the VI convocation". Official portal (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Kravchuk Not To Run For Snap Rada Elections". ukranews.com. 25 October 2008. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b c First ladies of Ukraine, ITAR-TASS (6 June 2014).
  7. ^ a b c Bush, Barbara (1994). Barbara Bush: A Memoir. New York: Scribner. p. 428. ISBN 0-7432-5447-3. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  8. ^ A reform that ruined the Soviet Union, The Ukrainian Week (10 November 2018)
  9. ^ Viktor Medvedchuk’s Crisis Archived 2008-09-06 at the Wayback Machine, Ukrainska Pravda (26 June 2007).
  10. ^ Leonid Kravchuk says, Viktor Yanukovych is not against talks with Yuschenko Archived 2010-12-04 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Ukraine (29 November 2004).
  11. ^ Kravchuk left SDP, 5.ua; accessed 3 January 2017. (in Ukrainian)
  12. ^ Kravchuk leaves Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united), Interfax-Ukraine (25 September 2009).
  13. ^ (in Russian) Кравчук стал доверенным лицом Тимошенко на президентских выборах Archived 2012-07-23 at the Wayback Machine, Focus (21 October 2009).
  14. ^ Interfax-Ukraine (27 October 2009).
  15. ^ Kravchuk explains his drift to Tymoshenko Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine, zik.com.ua (21 December 2009).
  16. ^ "The President's News Conference With President Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine". May 6, 1992. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017.
  17. ^ "Ukrainian Opposition Unveiled Masonic Conspiracy". February 4, 2003. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021.
  18. ^ Presidential decree 98/92, rada.gov.ua; accessed 3 January 2017.
  19. ^ Memory Book of Ukraine, rada.gov.ua; accessed 3 January 2017.
  20. ^ Service, s Ukrainian (2020-07-28). "Kuchma Quits As Presidential Envoy In Group For Resolving Conflict In Ukraine". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  21. ^ "Zelenskyy Appoints Gerontocrats to Negotiate With Russia in Minsk (Part One)". Jamestown. 2020-08-11. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  22. ^ "Ukrayinska Pravda exposes president's Mezhygirya deal", Kyiv Post (6 May 2009).

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Second Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of Supreme Soviet of Ukrainian SSR /
Chairman of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Office created
President of Ukraine
Succeeded by