Viktor Yushchenko

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Viktor Yushchenko
Віктор Ющенко
Image:VRU Jan23 2005 president.jpg


3rd President of Ukraine
Assumed office 
January 23, 2005
Preceded by Leonid Kuchma
Succeeded by Incumbent

Born February 23, 1954
Khoruzhivka, Sumy
Political party Our Ukraine
Spouse Kateryna Chumachenko

Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko (Ukrainian: Віктор Андрійович Ющенко) (born February 23 1954) is the current President of Ukraine.

As an informal leader of the Ukrainian opposition coalition, he was one of two main candidates in the October–November 2004 Ukrainian presidential election. The eventful election was won by Yushchenko through a revote of the runoff between him and Viktor Yanukovych, the government supported candidate. The revote, called for by the decision of the Ukrainian Supreme Court due to wide-spread election fraud in favor of the governmental candidate in the original run-off, was handily won by Yushchenko (52% to 44%). The public protests prompted by election fraud played a major role in that presidential election; and the term Orange Revolution, of which Yushchenko is considered a leader, is interchangeably applied to the protests or the election itself.


[edit] Early life

Viktor A. Yushchenko was born on February 23, 1954 in Khoruzhivka, Sumy Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, into a family of teachers. His father, Andriy Andriyovych Yushchenko (1919-1992), took part in the Second World War, where he was captured by Germans and placed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as a POW, but survived. After returning home, Andriy Yushchenko taught English at a local school. Viktor's mother, Varvara Tymofiyovna Yushchenko (1918-2005), was both a Physics and Maths teacher at the same school.

Later, Viktor Yushchenko graduated from the Ternopil Finance and Economics Institute, beginning his profession as an accountant. After completing his studies (1975), he worked as a deputy of the chief accountant in a kolkhoz, then served as a conscript in the Border Guard unit of KGB on the SovietTurkish border (1975-1976).

[edit] Central banker

Yushchenko worked in the banking system from 1976. From 1983 he was the Deputy Director for Agricultural Crediting at the Ukrainian Republican Office of the USSR State Bank. Then (1990-1993) he worked as vice-chairman and first vice-chairman of the joint-stock non-state-run agroindustrial bank Ukraina. In 1993, he was invited by Vadym Hetman to work in the newly-formed National Bank of Ukraine (Ukraine's central bank). After Hetman's resignation in 1993, Yushchenko was appointed the head of the supervisory board of the Bank. Later, in 1997, he was reappointed as the head of the Bank by the parliament.

As a central banker, Yushchenko played an important part in the creation of Ukraine's national currency, the hryvnia, and the establishment of a modern regulating system for commercial banking. He also successfully overcame a debilitating wave of hyper-inflation that hit the country and managed to defend the value of the currency following the 1998 financial crisis in Russia.

In 1998, he wrote a thesis on “The Development of supply and demand of money in Ukraine” and defended it in the Ukrainian Academy of Banking, getting Candidate of Economic Sciences (Doctor of Economics) degree.

[edit] Prime Minister

In December 1999, Yushchenko was unexpectedly nominated to be the prime minister by President Leonid Kuchma after the previous candidate, Valeriy Pustovoytenko, fell short by one vote of ratification by the parliament.

In 2001, Yushchenko refused to support and lead the mass protests against Kuchma's regime which erupted following the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze. Moreover, he co-signed a highly critical public address with Kuchma calling the protesters "fascists" -- despite the fact that many of them were supporters of his cabinet.

Significant economic progress was made during Yushchenko's cabinet service, though critics argue that this was made possible by the general situation of the economy, and was not the result of his actions. Soon, his government (particularly, deputy prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko) became embroiled in a confrontation with influential coal mining and natural gas industry leaders. The conflict resulted in a 2001 no-confidence vote by the parliament, which was mainly the work of the Communists, who had opposed Yushchenko's economic policies, and centrist groups associated with the country's powerful "oligarchs". The vote was carried by 263 to 69 and resulted in Yushchenko's removal from office.

The fall of his government was viewed with dismay by many Ukrainians; four million votes were gathered in support of a petition supporting him and opposing the parliamentary vote and a 10,000-strong demonstration was held in Kiev.

[edit] "Our Ukraine" leader and political portrait

Image:Yushchenko OurUkraine.jpg
Official image of Yushchenko, also used in Yushchenko and Our Ukraine political campaigns.

In 2002, Yushchenko became the leader of the Our Ukraine (Nasha Ukrayina) political coalition, which received a plurality of seats in the year's election to Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) . However, the number of seats won wasn't enough for a majority, and the efforts to form it together with other opposition parties failed. Since then, Yushchenko has remained the leader and public face of the "Our Ukraine" ("Nasha Ukrayina") parliament faction.

Yushchenko was widely regarded as the moderate political leader of anti-Kuchma opposition, since other opposition parties were less influential and had fewer seats in the parliament.

Since the end of his term as prime minister, Yushchenko has become a charismatic political figure popular among Ukrainians in the western and central regions of the country. As of 2001–2004, his rankings in popularity polls were higher than those of the president at the time, Leonid Kuchma. [1]

As a politician, Viktor Yushchenko is widely perceived as a mixture of West-oriented and moderate Ukrainian nationalist. He is also an advocate of massive privatization of the economy. His opponents (and allies) sometimes criticize him for indecision and failure to reveal his position, while advocates argue that these are the signs of Yushchenko's commitment to teamwork, consensus, and negotiation. He is also often accused of being unable to form a united and strong team that is free of inner quarrels. One of his former political allies, Yulia Tymoshenko who, during the Kuchma presidency, was arrested and then cleared of fraud charges relating to gas privatization, is often perceived by Ukrainians as a more decisive and charismatic political figure.

Since becoming the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushenko has been a honorary leader of "Our Ukraine" party. In the latest parliament election in March 2006 the party, led by the Prime-minister Yekhanurov received less then 14% of the national vote, taking the third place behind Party of Regions, and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc.

[edit] Presidential election of 2004

In 2004, as President Kuchma's term came to an end, Yushchenko announced that he was an independent candidate for president. His major rival was Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Since his term as prime minister, Yushchenko had slightly modernized his political platform, adding social partnership and other liberal slogans to older ideas of European integration, including Ukraine joining NATO, and fighting corruption. Supporters of Yushchenko were organized in the "Syla Narodu" ("Power to the People") electoral coalition, which was led by himself and his political ally Yulia Tymoshenko, with the Our Ukraine coalition being the main constituent force.

Yushchenko's campaign was built on face-to-face communication with the voters, since the government prevented most major TV channels from providing equal coverage to the candidates. Meanwhile, his rival, Yanukovych, frequently appeared in the news, even accusing Yushchenko, whose father was a Red Army soldier imprisoned at Auschwitz, of being "a Nazi."[citation needed]

[edit] Dioxin poisoning

Image:Yuschenko before after.JPG
Comparative Photos Showing Yuschenko Immediately Prior To And Immediately Following Dioxin Poisoning

The campaign was often bitter, controversial, and violent. Yushchenko became seriously ill in early September 2004. He was flown to Vienna's Rudolfinerhaus clinic for treatment and diagnosed with "acute pancreatitis, accompanied by interstitial edematous changes", said to be due to "a serious viral infection and chemical substances which are not normally found in food products", which Yushchenko claimed to be the work of agents of the government. After the illness, his face became heavily disfigured; grossly jaundiced, bloated and pockmarked.

After seeing Mr. Yushchenko's deformed face on the evening news, the Dutch toxicologist Bram Brouwer contacted the Rudolfinerhaus to test some of Yushchenko's blood at the Free University of Amsterdam for dioxin. According to Dr Michael Zimpfer, president of the Rudolfinerhaus, these tests provided conclusive evidence that Yushchenko's condition resulted from "high concentrations of dioxin, most likely orally administered". This hypothesis had already been suggested by British toxicologist John Henry of St. Mary's Hospital in London, as the marks on Yushchenko's face are chloracne, a characteristic symptom of dioxin poisoning. Other scientists suggested that the illness might have been the result of rosacea but this theory failed to account for the severe internal medical problems suffered by Yushchenko. On December 11, Austrian doctors confirmed Yushchenko was poisoned with TCDD dioxin, and has more than 1,000 times (other sources say 6,000 times) the usual concentration in his body [2]. This is the second highest dioxin level ever measured in a human. Yushchenko's chief of staff Oleg Ribachuk has suggested that the poison used was a mycotoxin called T-2, also known as "Yellow Rain", a Soviet-era substance which was reputedly used in Afghanistan as a chemical weapon.

Yushchenko has linked the poisoning to a dinner with a group of senior Ukrainian officials, including the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Ihor Smeshko, on the evening before Yushchenko fell ill. In connection to that, theories of links to the Russian FSB were mentioned. This hypothesis is disputed by some toxicologists, who claim that symptoms of dioxin poisoning usually take 3-14 days to appear—John Henry, professor of accident and emergency medicine at St Mary's Hospital in London, said "a few months after swallowing" or other contact [3]—and experiencing them a few hours after ingesting the poison would be unusual, though, given the extremely high concentration of dioxin found in his system, not impossible.

[edit] Unprecedented three rounds of voting

Image:Wiktor Juschtschenko.jpg
Viktor Yushchenko. Orange Revolution

The initial vote, held on 31 October 2004, saw Yushchenko obtaining 39.87% in front of Yanukovych with 39.32%. As no candidate reached the 50% margin required for outright victory, a second round of run-off voting was held on November 21, 2004. Although a 75% voter turnout was recorded, observers reported many irregularities and abuses across the country, such as organized multiple voting and extra votes for Yanukovych after the polls closed. Exit poll results put Yushchenko ahead in the western and central provinces of the country.

The alleged electoral fraud, combined with the fact that the exit polls recorded a result (an 11% margin of victory for Yushchenko in one poll) so radically different from the final vote tally (a 3% margin of victory for Yanukovych), prompted Yushchenko and his supporters to refuse to recognize the results.

After thirteen days of massive popular protests in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, that became known as the Orange Revolution, the election results were overturned by the Supreme Court and a re-run of the run-off election was ordered for December 26. Yushchenko proclaimed a victory for the opposition and declared his confidence that he would be elected with at least 60% of the vote. He did win the third round, but with 51.99% of the vote.

[edit] President

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[edit] Inauguration

On January 23, 2005, 12pm (Kiev time), the inauguration of Viktor Yushchenko as the President of Ukraine took place. The event was attended by various foreign dignitaries, including Arnold Rüütel, Adrienne Clarkson, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Vladimir Voronin, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Traian Băsescu, Ivan Gašparovič, Ferenc Mádl, Artur Rasizade, Jan Peter Balkenende, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nino Burjanadze, Artūras Paulauskas, Colin Powell, special guest Václav Havel, and numerous other guests.

[edit] Presidency

Image:Yushchenko and Lukashenko.jpg
Yushchenko meeting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at an August 2005 CIS meeting.

The first 100 days of Yushchenko's term, January 23, 2005, through May 1, 2005, were marked by numerous dismissals and appointments at all levels of the executive branch. Yulia Tymoshenko was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada as the Prime Minister. Oleksandr Zinchenko was appointed the head of the presidential secretariat with a nominal title of the Secretary of State. Petro Poroshenko, a cutthroat competitor of Tymoshenko for the post of the Prime Minister, was appointed the Secretary of the Security and Defense Council.

Yushchenko extensively traveled abroad, having spent the yearly travel budget by mid-April. His most notable visits include Moscow (January 24), the European Parliament in Strasbourg (February 23), and the United States (early April).

In August 2005, Yushchenko joined with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in signing the Borjomi Declaration, which called for the creation of an institution of international cooperation, The Community of Democratic Choice, to bring together the democraticies and incipient democracies in the region around the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas. The first meeting of presidents and leaders to discuss the CDC took place on December 1-2, 2005 in Kiev.

[edit] Dismissal of other Orange Revolution members

On September 8, 2005, Yushchenko fired his government, led by Yulia Tymoshenko, after resignations and corruption claims.

On September 9, acting Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov tried to form a new government.[4] On September 22, Mr. Yekhanurov was ratified by the parliament on second attempt (289 ayes). In the first attempt (September 20), Mr. Yekhanurov fell short of 3 votes (223 ayes, 226 needed).

Yushchenko maintains warm relations with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili

Also in September, former president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk accused exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky of financing Yushchenko's presidential election campaign, and provided copies of documents showing money transfers from companies he said are controlled by Berezovsky to companies controlled by Yushchenko's official backers. Berezovsky has confirmed that he met Yushchenko's representatives in London before the election, and that the money was transferred from his companies, but he refused to confirm or deny that the companies that received the money were used in Yushchenko's campaign. Financing of election campaigns by foreign citizens is illegal in Ukraine.

In August 2006, he appointed his onetime opponent in the presidential race, Viktor Yanukovych, to be the new Prime Minister. This was generally regarded as simultaneous with a move by Ukraine back into the Russian fold. [5]

[edit] Family and private life

Yushchenko is married to Kateryna Yushchenko-Chumachenko (his second wife). She is a Ukrainian-American born in Chicago and a former official with the U.S. State Department, where she worked as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. Much criticized for her US citizenship by her husband's opponents, Kateryna became a Ukrainian citizen on March 31, 2005. During the recent election campaign, Kateryna was accused of exerting the influence of the U.S. government on her husband's decisions, as an employee of the U.S. government or even a CIA agent. A Russian state television journalist had earlier accused her of leading a U.S. project to help Yushchenko seize power in Ukraine; in January 2002, she won a libel case against that journalist. Ukraine's then anti-Yushchenko Inter TV channel repeated the allegations in 2001, but in January 2003 she won a libel case against that channel as well.

Yushchenko has five children and two grandchildren: sons Andriy and Taras, daughters Vitalina, Sophia and Khrystyna, grandchildren Yaryna and Viktor.

A practicing member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Yushchenko often emphasizes the deep role of his religious convictions in his life and worldview.

Yushchenko's main hobbies are Ukrainian traditional culture (including art ceramics and archaeology), mountaineering and beekeeping. He is keen on painting, collects antiques, objects of folk-customs and Ukrainian national clothes, and restores objects of Trypillya culture.

Each year he climbs Hoverla, Ukraine's highest mountain. After receiving a checkup in which doctors determined he was healthy despite the previous year's dioxin poisoning, he successfully climbed the mountain again on July 16, 2005.

During that climb Yushchenko and a group of his bodyguards were reportedly struck by a lightning bolt. The incident has never been officially described, although the media cited witnesses stating that President and all but one guard fell unconscious. There was initial speculation that Yushchenko had himself been killed during the strike and that a stuffed dummy was replacing him for the time until a strategic plan could be considered. However, the President's office later admitted that other climbers had been injured or killed by that lightning strike. [6], [7], [8]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Preceded by:
Vadym Hetman
Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine
Succeeded by:
Volodymyr Stelmah
Preceded by:
Valeriy Pustovoitenko
Prime Minister of Ukraine
Succeeded by:
Anatoliy Kinakh
Preceded by:
Leonid Kuchma
President of Ukraine
Succeeded by:
ang:Victor Iusccenco

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Viktor Yushchenko

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