Russia without Ukraine is a country;
|Leonid M. Kravchuk||01 Dec 1991||19 Jul 1994||Social Democratic Party|
|Leonid Kuchma||19 Jul 1994||23 Jan 2005||People's Democratic Party|
|Viktor Yushchenko||23 Jan 2005||25 Feb 2010||Our Ukraine|
|Viktor Yanukovich||25 Feb 2010||22 Feb 2014||Party of Regions|
|Oleksandr Turchynov||23 Feb 2014||07 Jun 2014||Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc|
|Petro Poroshenko||07 Jun 2014||Jun 2019||UDAR|
|Vitold Fokin||23 Oct 1990||02 Oct 1992||KPU/Non-party|
|Leonid Kuchma||13 Oct 1992||22 Sep 1993||Non-party|
|Yukhim Zvyahilsky||22 Sep 1993||16 Jun 1994||Non-party|
|Vitalii Masol||16 Jun 1994||01 Mar 1995||Non-party|
|Yevhen Marchuk||01 Mar 1995||28 May 1996||Non-party|
|Pavlo Lazarenko||28 May 1996||02 Jul 1997||Hormada|
|Valerii Pustovoitenko||16 Jul 1997||22 Dec 1999||NDP|
|Viktor Yushchenko||22 Dec 1999||29 May 2001||Non-party|
|Anatolii Kinakh||29 May 2001||21 Nov 2002||PPPU|
|Viktor Yanukovich||21 Nov 2002||05 Jan 2005||Party of Regions|
|Mykola Azarov||07 Dec 2004||24 Jan 2005||Party of Regions|
|Yuliya Tymoshenko||24 Jan 2005||08 Sep 2005||Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc + VOB|
|Yurii Yekhanurov||08 Sep 2005||04 Aug 2006||NU|
|Viktor Yanukovich||04 Aug 2006||18 Dec 2007||Party of Regions|
|Yuliya Tymoshenko||18 Dec 2007||11 Mar 2010||Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc + VOB|
|Mykola Azarov||11 Mar 2010||28 Jan 2014||Party of Regions|
|Sergei Arbuzov||05 Feb 2014||Mar 2014||Party of Regions|
|Arseniy Yatsenyuk||Mar 2014||??||VOB|
|excludes brief acting PMs|
Ukraine is two nations in one country. Eastern Ukraine looks to Russia, and Western Ukraine looks to Europe. The population of Ukraine is over 45 million. Ethnic Ukrainians make up approximately 78% of the total; ethnic Russians number about 17%, ethnic Belarusians number about 0.6%. The industrial regions in the east and southeast are the most heavily populated, and the population is about 69% urban. Ukrainian and Russian are the principal languages. Although Russian is very widely spoken, in the 2001 census (the latest official figures) 85.2% of the ethnic Ukrainian population identified Ukrainian as their native language. While members of the three Orthodox churches comprise a majority of believers in the western part of the country overall, the Greek Catholic communities constitute a majority in three of the eight western oblasts: Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopil.
The entrepreneurial dynamism and pro-European sentiment is palpable in western Ukraine, with construction visible in the cities and countryside, coffee houses full of students, and European Union flags proudly displayed and dreams of NATO accession unabashedly uttered. But overt Russian-affiliated intervention into internal Ukrainian politics includes both advocacy of a Ukrainian political force and via participation of a handful of Kremlin sponsored or tolerated fringe groups and NGOs.
Conventional wisdom divides Ukraine into the Orange provinces in the West, the center of support for politicians leaning towards Europe, and the Blue provinces in the South and East, the center of support for pro-Russian politicians. At times it seems that Ukraine's emerging two-party system could be dangerous for Ukrainian unity, leading to a possible East/West split of the country. Some speculate that Ukraine could be divided into three parts, with the east/south annexed by Russia, a Russian-controlled central region, and a European-oriented rump Ukraine in the west. But nothing in Ukraine is so simple. While Prime Minister, Orange leader Yuliya Tymoshenko made deals favorable to Moscow, and the Blue Party of Regions includes pro-European factions.
The fraudulent conduct of the 2004 presidential elections resulted in massive but peaceful demonstrations - referred to commonly as the Orange Revolution - which brought Viktor Yushchenko to the Presidency, with support from Western Ukraine. The March 2006 parliamentary elections were the freest and fairest in the country's history. The Party of Regions, led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych with support from Eastern Ukraine, garnered a plurality of votes and formed a majority coalition with the Socialist and Communist parties in the Rada (parliament), which allowed Yanukovych to become Prime Minister once again. However, accusations of vote-buying led Yushchenko to dismiss the parliament in April 2007.
Pre-term parliamentary elections in September 2007 were judged to be free and fair by international standards. Although Russia-leaning Party of Regions once again won a plurality, the Europe-leaning Bloc Yuliya Tymoshenko (BYuT) and the pro-Yushchenko Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc (OU-PSD) garnered enough seats in the Rada to form a narrow majority. Thus the main players in the government that took office in 2005 immediately after the Orange Revolution returned to power, including Tymoshenko as Prime Minister. Mutual recriminations between the President and Prime Minister quickly surfaced again in 2008.
Ukraine had been free of significant civil unrest or disorder since the November-December 2004 Orange Revolution. After President Yushchenko dissolved the Ukrainian Parliament in April 2007, there were large but peaceful street demonstrations which lasted for several months. President Yushchenko's decision to again dissolve the parliament in October 2008, resulted in scattered and much smaller (but peaceful) demonstrations. More recently, there were a number of political demonstrations with several hundred to several thousand participants in the center of Kyiv in the lead-up to the presidential elections in February 2010 which saw Viktor Yanukovych victorious over Yuliya Tymoshenko. In 2011 and 2012, there was an increase in the number of demonstrations in response to domestic political and economic issues. In late 2012, there were a number of minor demonstrations, fights, and protests in response to alleged falsifications during the parliamentarian elections in October 2012.
According to the results of a public opinion survey conducted by the Research & Branding Group, 20.8% of Ukrainians would vote for the incumbent President Viktor Yanukovych if the next presidential elections were held on Sunday, October 6. Further results reveal that: 11.7% of Ukrainians would vote for Leader of UDAR Party Vitali Klitschko; 10.9% for Leader of the Batkivschyna Party Yulia Tymoshenko; 6.3% for leader of the Batkivschyna faction in Parliament Arseniy Yatseniuk; Leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine Petro Symonenko would get 4.9% of the vote; independent MP Petro Poroshenko would poll 3.2%; and Leader of Svoboda Party Oleh Tiahnybok would poll 3.1%. At the same time, 11.5% of respondents said they would not go to the polls, 16.6% were undecided, and 7.9% said they would vote against all candidates. The survey was conducted by R&B Group in all regions of Ukraine on September 15-25, 2013. A total of 3,117 respondents aged over 18 years were polled. The margin of error is 2%.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it would be impossible for Ukraine to join a Moscow-led Customs Union if the country signs an association agreement with the European Union. “It will be impossible since such association stipulates the creation of a free-trade zone between the European Union and Ukraine,” Putin said 24 October 2013 at a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk. The EU reinforced the Russian zero-sum logic by stating that Ukraine had to choose between the EU agreement and the Moscow-led customs union. Putin has said that Russia will be obliged to use stiffer customs regulations to protect itself from a flood of European and Turkish goods that would be re-exported to Russia via Ukraine if trade with the EU were increased.
Ukraine's Cabinet said 21 November 2013 it was suspending preparations to sign the historic trade and cooperation agreement with the EU. The decision resulted in a multi-billion-dollar bailout from Russia that analysts said staved off near-certain bankruptcy for the impoverished country. Moscow offered Kiev a more attractive deal than what was on offer from Europe. Moscow needed Kiev more than Europe, and tended to view Europe's approach to Kiev as a third effort to grab Ukraine, after failed attempts in the Great War and World War II.
Pro-European protesters were angered by the turn toward Moscow and took to the streets of Kyiv, where they maintained a presence ever since. The decision triggered massive protests in the Ukrainian capital and some other large cities. The protesters initially demanded that President Viktor Yanukovich overturn his decision. But as the EU summit passed without a trade deal for Ukraine, they turned their anger on the government and demanded its resignation. As the confrontation continued, European and American politicians and top officials flocked to Ukraine to cheer up the opposition crowds and criticize the Yanukovich government for not following their demands.
President Viktor Yanukovich fled Ukraine 21 February 2014 citing security concerns last month. Russia considers Yanukovich Ukraine’s legitimate leader and does not recognize the new Ukrainian authorities, but the West claims they are legitimate. A vote by Crimeans to join the Russian Federation was quickly accepted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Crimea signed a treaty with Russia to become its constituent member on 18 March 2014 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced 24 July 2014 that he was resigning, amid the break-up of the country’s ruling coalition in parliament. Ukraine’s Svoboda and UDAR parties announced their factions were quitting the majority coalition. Yatsenyuk made the announcement hours after the two major political parties in the ruling coalition pulled out. Usually mild-mannered and even-keeled, he expressed frustration over parliament’s failure to pass crucial energy legislation and increase army financing as the county battles pro-Russia separatists in its east and tried to deal with the aftermath of a plane downing that killed 298 people.
Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman was appointed as acting prime minister. The Cabinet of Ministers, dissolved by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament), would continue to function until the new government is formed. President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the break-up of the coalition saying that early parliamentary elections will give Ukrainians the opportunity of a “full reset.”
Extraordinary elections would be held on September 28.
On 31 July 2014 Ukraine's parliament rejected the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had announced his intention to step down after the two parties supporting him left the ruling coalition. The legislature voted not to accept Yatsenyuk's resignation, despite his loss of political backing. The lawmakers also approved legislation backed by Yatsenyuk to help fund the fight against pro-Russian separatists in the east. The prime minister had warned that without the funding, Ukraine would default on its debt, undermining a $17 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund.
The mayor of Kiev took the lead on 09 August 2014 in work to dismantle the remaining barriers and tents on the Ukrainian capital's main street, nine months after pro-EU demonstrators took to the streets. Vitali Klitschko, an ex-boxing champion who was active in the protests during the winter, turned out with dozens of volunteers and council workers. He told reporters that Kreschatik Street had to be re-opened to traffic. A few hundred demonstrators had still occupied a camp on the square. Days before, protesters had clashed with security forces in Kiev in scenes reminiscent of the unrest which eventually brought down Ukraine's pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, in February.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the law on the "Purification of the government" on 09 October 2014. The law determines the legal and administrative grounds for examining officials "with the aim of restoring trust to the government and the creation of conditions for the construction of a new system in accordance with European standards." The lustration (a term for the purging of government officials affiliated with the former regime) committees will be created in each ministry. The law says that officials will have to submit consent in writing to undergoing checks, as well as provide an autobiography and a copy of their passport. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has initially calculated the number of people who may be subjected to lustration at 1 million. The law's main target is Soviet functionaries, security forces and the close entourage of deposed president Victor Yanukovych.
By the end of November 2014 political pressure was mounting both at home and abroad on Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, with critics arguing he lacked direction in combating a pro-Moscow insurgency in the east and not moving fast enough on reform. With government formation delayed, so, too, were the sweeping reforms called for by the Maidan protesters who unseated Yanukovych earlier this year. And activists warn of trouble ahead if reform is not taken up quickly, and endemic political corruption stamped out.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk emerged strengthened from the October elections with a hard-line stance on Russia that risked making the more diplomatic President Petro Poroshenko look weak. Some are concerned that emerging cracks between Ukraine's leaders - Poroshenko and Yatseniuk - might widen, as they did a decade ago between the previous leadership duo, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko.
In a widely expected move, Ukraine's new parliament elected Arseniy Yatsenyuk for a new term as prime minister. The Verkhovna Rada on 27 November 2014 confirmed Yatsenyuk to stay on as prime minister with the backing of 341 deputies out of 390 present. The five parties in the governing coalition have 288 seats, suggesting that about half the 96 independent members voted with the majority.
Yatsenyuk was in favor of re-appointing Oleksandr Turchynov, a leader of Yatsenyuk's party, as parliamentary chairman. The Ukrainian parliament elected former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman, a representative from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, to the post of speaker. The parliamentary chairman is the first to stand in for the president if the head of state is unable to fulfill his duties.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|