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Leonid Kuchma

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Leonid Kuchma
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Leonid Kuchma

Leonid Danylovych Kuchma (in Ukrainian: Леонід Данилович Кучма) (born August 9, 1938) was the second President of Ukraine from July 19, 1994, to January 23, 2005.

Contents

Early Life

Kuchma was born in Chaikyne, a village of the Chernihivs'ka oblast' (Ukrainian SSR). His father was killed on the World War II front in 1944. Kuchma studied at Dnipropetrovs'k university and got a degree in rocket engineering. He moved into senior management posts of the Yuzhmash industrial company in Dnipropetrovs'k (finally becoming its executive), as well as in the Communist party elite. As such, Kuchma played an important role in Soviet strategic missile and space rocket programs.

Some researchers believe that Kuchma's earlier career had been significantly boosted by his marriage to Ludmila Tumanova, the daughter of a local CPSU chief.

Kuchma was an amateur guitar player in his younger years. He was also known for being good in the complicated card game called preferans.

Political Career

From 1990 to 1992 he was a member of the Ukrainian parliament (Committee on Defence and State Security), and became Prime Minister of Ukraine in 1992.

Kuchma resigned his position in September 1993, to successfully run for the presidency in 1994, on a platform to boost the economy by restoring economic relations with Russia. He also declared his intentions to implement economic reforms.

Early in his presidency, Mr. Kuchma arranged a $730 million loan from the IMF, signed a "Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership" with Russia, and endorsed a round of talks with the CIS. Additionally, he referred to Russian as "an official language." He signed a special partnership agreement with NATO and even raised the possibility of membership of the alliance. He was re-elected in 1999.

After Kuchma's popularity at home and abroad sank as he became mired in corruption scandals, he turned to Russia as his new ally, saying Ukraine needed a "multivector" foreign policy that balanced eastern and western interests.

Opponents accused him of involvement in the killing in 2000 of journalist Georgiy Gongadze (see also SBU, "Cassette Scandal", Mykola Mel'nychenko), which he has always denied. They also blamed him for restrictions on press freedom. President Kuchma, along with Viktor Medvedchuk, then the Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, is believed to have played a key role in sacking the Cabinet of Viktor Yushchenko on April 26, 2001.

Mr. Kuchma's Prime Minister from 2002 until early January 2005 was Viktor Yanukovych, after Kuchma dismissed Anatoliy Kinakh, his previous appointee.

Role in the Crisis of 2004

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Leonid_Kuchma_2004.jpg
President Kuchma. 2004

Kuchma's role in the election's crisis of 2004 is not entirely clear. After the second round on November 22, 2004, it appeared that Yanukovych had won the election by fraud, which caused the opposition and independent observers to dispute the results, leading to the Orange Revolution.

Kuchma was urged by Yanukovych and Viktor Medvedchuk (the head of the presidential administration) to declare a state of emergency and hold the inauguration of Yanukovych. He denied the request by admittedly stating in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he refused to pass the government into the hands of an alleged Donetsk criminal. At that time, however, Kuchma was himself blocked by protesters in his residence outside Kyiv, so he had effectively no power to pass. Later, Yanukovych publicly accused Kuchma of a betrayal.

Nevertheless, Kuchma refused to officially dismiss Prime Minister Yanukovych after the parliament passed a motion of no confidence against the Cabinet on December 1, 2004.

Kuchma was present at the inauguration of President Yushchenko on January 23, 2005. Soon after, he left the country. He returned to Ukraine on March 5, 2005, for the funeral of Yuri Kravchenko.

Related Literature

  • Sochor, Zenovia A. 1994. Political Culture and Foreign Policy: Elections in Ukraine 1994. Printed in: Tismaneanu, Vladmir (ed.). 1995. Political Culture and Civil Society in Russia and the New States of Eurasia. ISBN 1-56324-364-4. pp.208-224.

See also


Preceded by:
Valentyn Symonenko
Prime Minister of Ukraine
1992–1993
Succeeded by:
Yukhym Zvyahilsky
Preceded by:
Leonid Kravchuk
President of Ukraine
1994–2005
Succeeded by:
Viktor Yushchenko

Template:End boxde:Leonid Kutschma es:Leonid Kuchma fr:Leonid Koutchma lv:Leonīds Kučma nl:Leonid Koetsjma ja:レオニード・クチマ no:Leonid Kutsjma pl:Leonid Kuczma ru:Кучма, Леонид Данилович fi:Leonid Kutšma sv:Leonid Kutjma uk:Кучма Леонід Данилович

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