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Viktor Yanukovych


Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych  born 9 July 1950) is a Ukrainian politician who has been President of Ukraine since February 2010 after beating Yulia Tymoshenko in the second round of balloting. His previous attempt to become president in 2004 failed when the Ukrainian Supreme Court nullified and ordered a re-run of the initial second-round ballot electing Yanukovych, which was fraught with allegations of fraud and voter intimidation amid widespread citizen protests and occupation of Kiev's Independence Square in what became known as the Orange Revolution. (See also Ukrainian presidential election, 2004.) Yanukovych lost the court-ordered second 2004 presidential run-off election to Viktor Yushchenko. However, Yanukovych continued to lead his party, the Party of Regions.

Yanukovych served as the Governor of Donetsk Oblast from 1997 to 2002. Subsequently he was Prime Minister of Ukraine from 21 November 2002 to 31 December 2004 under President Leonid Kuchma. After the failed 2004 presidential election, Yanukovych served as Prime Minister for a second time from 4 August 2006 to 18 December 2007 under President Yushchenko. On 3 March 2010, Yanukovych transferred the leadership of the party to Mykola Azarov.[1][2]November 2013 saw the beginning of a series of events that led to President Yanukovych's fight for survival.[3] What started as peaceful popular protests and the occupation of Kiev's Independence Square by young pro-European Union Ukrainians over Yanukovych's rejecting the pending EU association agreement in favor of a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia and dubbed Euromaidan, in January 2014 morphed into deadly clashes across Ukraine pitting ordinary Ukrainians against Yanukovych's[4] special police units.

Consolidation of family power

Yanukovych has been widely criticized for massive corruption and cronyism.[5][6][7][8][9] In a feature describing and depicting in photographs Yanukovych's new mansion costing more than 75 million US dollars, Sergii Leshchenko notes, "For most of [Yanukovych's] career he was a public servant or parliament deputy, where his salary never exceeded 2000 US dollars per month." Under a photo showing the new home's ornate ceiling, Leschenko remarks, "In a country where 35% of the population live under poverty line, spending 100 000 dollars on each individual chandelier seems excessive, to say the least.[10]By January 2013, more than half of the ministers appointed by Yanukovych were either born in the Donbas region or made some crucial part of their careers there, and Yanukovych has been criticized for "regional cronyism" for his staffing of police, judiciary, and tax services "all over Ukraine" with "Donbas people".[11] Over 46% of the budget subventions for social and economic development was allotted to the Donbas region's Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast administrations – 0.62 billion UAH ($76.2 million) versus 0.71 billion UAH ($87.5 million) for the rest of the country.[12]

Yanukovych has been accused of using the Berkut, a ubiquitous national special police force under his personal command, to threaten, terrorize, and attack at election time voters across the country who dare vote for non-Yanukovych candidates to local governments. Individual cases have been reported of citizens grouping together and fighting back against the Berkut in order to practice their right to vote.[13]Anders Åslund, a Swedish economist and Ukraine analyst, has described the consolidation of Ukrainian economic power in the hands of a few elite industrial tycoons, the richest and most influential of whom has become President Yanukovych's own son Oleksandr Yanukovych. While the exact distribution of wealth and precise weight of influence are difficult to gauge, two things are evident: No one has been enriched more than the younger Yanukovych, and most of the country's richest men are afraid to cross the Yanukovich family, even in cases where their own economic interests favor an economically pro-EU Ukraine and even when forced to sell their companies to the Yanukovych family at heavy discounts. One notable exception to the Yanukovych family's grip on the country's oligarchs is Petro Poroshenko, who is described as "uncommonly courageous" and whose confectionery empire is less susceptible to ruin by the tremendous power the Yanukovych family wields, strongest in the heavy industry sectors located in Yanukovych's geographic power base, the traditionally pro-Russian eastern part of Ukraine
Russian gas
According to Yanukovych, relations between Ukraine and Russia in the gas sector must be built “according to the rules of the market”.[54][36] He sees the gas agreement signed in 2009 after the 2009 Russia-Ukraine gas dispute as very unprofitable for Ukraine he and wants to "initiate the discussion of the most urgent gas issues" after the 2010 presidential election.[25] Yanukovych has promised before his election as Ukrainian President to "solve the issue" concerning the Russian Black Sea Fleet, currently stationed in the Ukrainian port Sevastopol, "in a way so that the interests of Russia or Ukraine would not be harmed".[55] This led to the April 2010 Ukrainian–Russian Naval Base for Natural Gas treaty. Yanukovych had also promised to create a consortium that would allow Russia to jointly operate Ukraine's gas transportation network and he has pledged to help Russia build the South Stream natural gas pipeline.[56] As of June 2010 both did not happen. Yanukovych rejected accusations that improvement of Ukrainian-Russian relations harms relations with the European Union. “Our policy is directed to protection of our national interests. We do not live in a fairy tale and understand that our partners also defend their interests”.[57] In February 2012 Yanukovych stated, referring to relations with Russia, "It is not wise to fall asleep next to a big bear".[58]
Downgrading uranium stock
During the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit Yanukovych announced that Ukraine would give up its 90-kilogram stock of highly enriched uranium and convert its research reactors from highly enriched to low-enriched uranium. It intends to accomplish these goals by 2012.[59]
Modernizing energy
During the 2010 presidential campaign Yanukovych called for the modernization of Ukraine's energy sector (including technologies to save energy) increase of Ukraine's domestic natural gas production,[60] tax reforms (cut the Value Added Tax (VAT) to 17 percent by 2011 from 20 percent and corporate tax to 19 percent from 25 percent, banks should not offer mortgages with more than 7 percent interest rates[61]), and reforming the legal system in order to fight against corruption.[54] He also believed that by 2019 Ukraine should be one of the G-20 major economies.[62] Yanukovych believes Ukraine could gain energy security through the development and construction of more nuclear power stations and he wants to modernise the Ukrainian coal industry.[61] Yanukovych favors import substitution industrialization and deregulation.[63]
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