Viktor Yushchenko

(b. 1954)

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(b. 23 Feb 1954).

Ukrainian President 2005–  Born in Choruchivka, he studied economics and joined the Soviet banking sector in 1977. After Ukrainian independence he was appointed President of the Central Bank, and in 1999 he was elected Prime Minister. He introduced a number of successful market‐oriented reforms, but in 2001 Yushchenko resigned because of a lack of parliamentary support for his measures. In 2002, his party, ‘Our Ukraine’, became the largest party in parliament. In the run‐up to the 2004 elections, he was poisoned with dioxin, which left permament scars on his face. He lost the rigged elections to his rival, Viktor Yanukovych, whereupon he led the Orange Revolution that paralysed the government, and encouraged the Supreme Court to declare the presidential elections invalid. Yushchenko won the renewed elections, but in order to appease his opponents and allies alike he surrendered some of his vast presidential powers to parliament.

Yushchenko soon fell out with his erstwhile ally, Yulia Tymoshenko, whose political radicalism he criticized. Owing to incessant squabbles among the governing parties, they lost the 2006 elections, forcing Yushchenko to appoint Yanukovich as Prime Minister. A beacon of hope during the Orange Revolution, Yushchenko disappointed many who had hoped for a political shift and policies of Westernization and market reforms.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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