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Ukraine

Ukraine

Political turmoil broke out in Ukraine, after the riots on Maidan Square where over 70 protesters were killed. President Yanukovych fled to Russia and was removed from power by the Parliament in Kyiv. An interim government was appointed and Presidential elections were set for 25 May. Businessman Petro Poroshenko won those elections and got installed as the new President of Ukraine.

In the wake of the ousting of President Yanukovych however, Russia took control of the autonomous region Crimea. On 16 March an overwhelming majority in this region voted to join Russia, in a referendum unrecognised by the rest of the world. On 26 October Ukrainians went to the polls, this time to elect a new Ukrainian Parliament. Pro-Western parties won an overwhelming majority during these elections. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Donbas however decided not to allow for these elections, but to hold their own, a week later.
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POLITICAL SITUATION

Political system
Ukraine has a parliamentary presidential system, which means that the country elects on national level a head of state, the president, and a legislature. The president is elected for a five-year term directly by the people. The president needs a majority of the votes in the first round to be elected. Otherwise a second round is held, in which only the two candidates with the highest amount of votes (in the first round) can compete.

The parliament (Verkhovna Rada) has 450 members, elected for a five-year term. Until 2005, half of the members were elected by proportional representation and the other half by single-mandate constituencies. Starting with the 2006 parliamentary election, all 450 members were elected by proportional representation, but after a change in 2011 the parallel system of proportional representation and single-member constituencies was restored. From that moment on, candidates can be elected through party lists or self-nomination.

The constitution prescribes that the governmental parties must have a majority in parliament. Thus, minority coalitions are formally no option for government coalitions. Representative bodies and heads of local government throughout Ukraine are elected simultaneously with the Verkhovna Rada.

Latest political issues
Massive protests broke out in Kyiv’s central square after President Yanukovych abandoned a trade agreement with the European Union, favouring closer ties with Russia on 21 November 2013. The protesters occupied the Maidan square for months and took control of several government buildings. Clashes between protesters and the police intensified and came to an apogee on 18 February 2014, when over 70 protesters were killed. A truce between the government and the protesters the days before was to no avail. In the political turmoil that followed, President Yanukovych fled the capital for Russia and was removed from power by the Ukrainian Parliament. An interim government was appointed and presidential elections were set for 25 May. Businessman and former Minister Petro Poroshenko won those elections and got installed as the new President of Ukraine.

In the wake of the ousting of President Yanukovych, pro-Russia forces took control of government buildings and strategic military complexes in the autonomous region Crimea on 27 February, spurring fears of a Ukrainian break-up. Tensions between Russia and the West rose sharply over what the West saw as Russian expansionist aggression in Crimea. On 6 March, Crimea’s Parliament voted for secession from Ukraine and to join Russia, a referendum to approve the parliamentary vote was set for 16 March, in which an overwhelming majority voted to join Russia. The West claimed the referendum to be illegal and posed sanctions.

Political unrest spread from the capital to the eastern parts of Ukraine. Russian speaking Eastern Ukrainians felt threatened by what they perceived as an attempt by Western Ukrainians to repress them – this was fired up by Russian media – and took to the streets. They were soon joined by what are believed to be Russian armed citizens. The separatists then proclaimed two republics in Eastern Ukraine: the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. The Ukrainian government responded by sending troops. The conflict spun out of control in a matter of weeks, into a full-scale war between the regular Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists with the participation of Russian nationals and, what Western and Ukrainian observers claim to be Russian weaponry. Thousands of civilians are on the run to escape the violence.

In his victory speech, President Poroshenko vowed to stop the war in the East. He stated “the first steps of my team will focus on ending the war, the chaos, the unrest and bring peace to the land of Ukraine”. He promised amnesty to all non-violent protesters in Eastern Ukraine. However, the fighting continued with varying success on both sides. On 5 September a ceasefire agreement was reached in Minsk, Belarus,  between Ukrainian government representatives and separatist leaders, with the presence of Russian and OSCE officials. However, although hostilities seemed to subside, fighting re-emerged again after some time.

On 26 October parliamentary elections took place in Ukraine. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Donbas refused to hold any Ukrainian elections on their territories. Instead, on 2 November, they held their own parliamentary elections. Western countries and Kyiv have rejected these elections. Russia says it respects, but does not recognize, the elections in the separatist regions. There was also no voting in Crimea, because of the annexation by Russia earlier this year.


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ELECTIONS

Parliamentary elections 2014
After winning the presidential elections of 25 May 2014, President Poroshenko announced that he intended to hold early parliamentary elections as soon as the political chaos in the East has been resolved. On 25 August Poroshenko dissolved the Parliament and announced that early elections would be held on 26 October.  In late July Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk already announced that he wanted to resign, after two parties left the coalition government. However, Parliament voted against this, forcing him to remain Prime Minister until the early elections. These elections on 26 October were won, by an overwhelming majority, by pro-Western parties. Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front in the end became the single largest party. Preliminary single-mandate districts results show, however, that Poroshenko’s Bloc will likely have the most MPs overall. 

Campaign
Despite all the changes in the country, “attempts to bribe voters in this election were probably as common as under President Viktor Yanukovych”, said a local observer from the Ukrainian OPORA election watchdog. The police has opened several criminal cases regarding voter bribing. In their preliminary findings and conclusions on the parliamentary elections, the OSCE stated that “there were a number of credible allegations of vote buying, many of which are being investigated by the authorities”. But in general candidates were free to campaign, and the election campaign was competitive and visible. Misuse of administrative resources was not named as an issue of major concern, unlike in previous elections. Overall, the OSCE’s preliminary findings showed that democratic principles were generally respected.  

Results
With all votes counted, the Central Election Commission (CEC) showed six parties passing the 5% electoral threshold and thus entering Ukrainian Parliament. Far right-wing party Svoboda seems not to have made it into parliament, with 4.71% of the votes.

Elections results 2014

Party

Seats proportional lists

Seats single-mandate constituencies

Total seats

% votes

People's Front

64

18

82

22.14

Petro Poroshenko Bloc 63 69 132 21.82
Self Reliance Party 32 1 33 10.97

Opposition Bloc

27

2

29

9.43

Radical Party of Oley Lyashko

22

0

22

7.44

Batkivishina

17

2

19

5.68

All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda"

-

6

6

4.71

Strong Ukraine

-

1

1

3.10

Zastup

-

1

1

2.65

Right Sector

-

1

1

1.81

Volia

-

1

1

-

Independent single constituencies

-

96

96

-


Voter turnout 52.4%

Also interesting is that 64 MPs have been re-elected to Parliament who had voted for the highly controversial laws of 16 January, which then President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions pushed through Parliament amid the Maidan movement, severely limiting certain rights, including the freedom to association.


Aftermath

Opposition reaction
Three days after the elections, the far-right wing party Svoboda released a statement claiming ‘mass falsifications’ based on the difference between the exit polls (which gave Svoboda 6.3% of the votes) and the actual results. The party believes that it has in fact passed the 5% threshold, and that the alleged falsifications are the result of efforts by Russian President Putin and his ‘agents’’ in Ukraine. CEC Chair Mikhail Ohendovski promised the party to check the ballot protocols of the districts where Svoboda believes falsifications took place.

'Elections' in Donetsk and Luhansk
In the East, polling stations did not open in the areas controlled by separatists, designated as the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics”. These two breakaway regions held their own elections on 2 November. They have insisted they will never again be part of Ukraine. During the regular parliamentary elections on 26 October only 42% of people in the Donetsk region and 26% in Luhansk were able to vote. As a result, 27 out of the 450 parliamentary seats (also included the seats representing the annexed Crimea region) will be left vacant.

The EU has not recognized the elections of 2 November in the Donbas and stated that they are illegal. Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has said that: “The EU will not recognize these illegitimate elections, held contrary to Ukrainian legislation. In addition, such elections contradict the Minsk Protocol and are aimed at breaking the peace process in the Donbas region.” EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini called the vote an ‘obstacle to peace’.  Also the OSCE said it would have nothing to do with the elections and the organisation didn’t send any international observers.

President Poroshenko called on Russia to denounce the vote. He described the elections as a ‘farce, [conducted] under the barrels of tanks and machine guns.’ The Russian Foreign Ministry, while not recognising the election, said it “respects the will of the people of Southeast Ukraine.”

OSCE report
As mentioned above the OSCE preliminary report was quite positive. The report mentioned that, “There were many positive points to the process, such as an impartial and efficient Central Election Commission, an amply contested election that offered voters real choice, and a general respect for fundamental freedoms.” However, the OSCE also stated that “there were a number of credible allegations of vote buying, many of which are being investigated by the authorities”. But in general candidates were free to campaign, and the election campaign was competitive and visible.


Presidential elections 2014
Presidential elections were held in Ukraine on Sunday 25 May as former President Yanukovych was ousted by the EuroMaidan revolution on 22 February. Businessman Petro Poroshenko won the elections with 54.7% of the votes and has become president of a country in chaos. Two eastern regions declared independence and are plagued by violence as the country faces bankruptcy. The new President of Ukraine will be tasked with restoring peace and order in the country.

Runner-up is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, candidate for the Batkivishina All-Ukrainian Union, with 12.82 %  of the votes. Radical Party leader Oleh Liashko surprisingly became third with 8.32 % of the votes. Liashko is well known for his television appearances.

Poroshenko claimed the victory at his Kyiv headquarters on Sunday evening 25 May. He spoke in Ukrainian, Russian and English saying “The first steps of my team will focus on ending the war, the chaos, the unrest and bring peace to the land of Ukraine.” Poroshenko promised leniency towards non-violent separatists in eastern Ukraine “For those people who don’t take [up] weapons, we are always ready for negotiations to guarantee them security, to guarantee their rights, including speaking the language they want.” He was also committed to end the conflict with Russia and wanted to start negotiations to replace the Budapest Memorandum. He said “Without Russia it would be much less effective or almost impossible to speak about the security in the whole region.”

Many of the people in the eastern part of the country were not able to vote. The Kyiv government has lost control in large parts of the Donbas region where separatists do not allow people to vote. In the city of Donetsk, home to one million Ukrainians, not a single polling station was opened. With the rise of armed groups, the increasing paramilitary activity and a population that distrusts Kyiv, voter turnout in the eastern regions of Ukraine was very low. In other parts of Ukraine the voter turnout was very high. The elections were seen as the most important since Ukrainian independence. Mykola Hosovskiy, of the General Prosecutor’s Office stated “For the first time in the history of election processes in Ukraine, there were no complaints [...] about the use of administrative resources.”

Election results

Candidate Party Votes Percentage
Petro Poroshenko Independent 9,857,308 54.70
Yulia Tymoshenko All Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" 2,310,130 12.82
Oleh Lyashko Radical Party 1,500,377 8.32
Anatoliy Hrytsenko Civil Position 989,029 5.48
Serhiy Tihipko Indepedent 943,350 5.23
Mykhailo Dobkin Party of Regions 546,138 3.03
Vadim Rabinovich Independent 406,301 2.25
Olga Bogomolets Independent 345,384 1.19
Petro Symonenko Communist Party of Ukraine 272,723 1.51
Oleh Tyahnybok All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" 210,476 1.16
Dmytro Yarosh Right Sector 127,772 0.70
Andriy Hrynenko  Independent  73,277 0.40
 Valeriy Konovalyuk  Independent  69,569 0.38
 Yuriy Boyko  Independent 35,928 0.19
 Mykola Malomuzh  Independent 23,771 0.13
 Renat Kuzmin  Independent 18,689 0.10
 Vasyl Kuybida People's Movement of Ukraine 12,391 0.06
 Oleksandr Klymenko  Ukrainian People's Party 10,545 0.05
 Vasyl Tsushko  Independent 10,434 0.05
 Volodymyr Saranov  Independent 6,232 0.03
 Zoryan Shkiryak  Independent 5,021 0.02
 Invalid/blank votes   244,659 1.35
 Total votes   18,019,504 100
 Registered voters/turnout    29,625,200  60.19

 


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SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTIES

Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU)
The Socialist Party of Ukraine was founded in 1991. It called itself the successor to the Communist Party of Ukraine, but chose to form its own programme and develop a new emphasis in its political activities. The new programme underscored the need to carry out privatisation, implement changes to the tax and criminal codes, fight corruption and introduce a pro-European foreign policy. The SPU calls itself democratic socialistic, but shows signs of social democracy.

After the Orange Revolution, which it supported, the SPU ran independently in the 2006 parliamentary elections. It received 33 seats in the Verkhovna Rada, and was part of the governing coalition. In the 2007 parliamentary elections, however, the party did not pass the threshold of 3%, winning only 2,86% of the votes, likely as a result of its sudden cooperation with the Party of Regions and the Communist Party.

In December 2011 several minor parties merged with the SPU: Farmer’s Party, All-Ukrainian Party ‘Children of War’, ‘Children of war National Party of Ukraine’ and the Kozak Fame party. Nonetheless, the party won 0.46% of the national votes in the parliamentary election of 2012 and no constituencies and thus failed again to pass the electoral threshold. The party did not enter the 2014 parliamentary elections either.

Party leader: Petro Ustenko
www.spu.in.ua
The SPU is a consultative member of the Socialist International.


Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (USDP)
The USDP was formed in 1998 following a split in the first Social Democratic Party of Ukraine when a part of it joined the Party of Human Rights and became the USDP. Since November 2006 Yevhen Korniychuk is the chairman of the party. During the parliamentary elections in 2006 and 2007 the party was part of the Yulia Tymoshenko Electoral Bloc. In the 2007 elections the bloc won 156 out of 450 seats, eight of which went to USDP. These eight were the only Social-Democratic MPs in Parliament.

In August 2011 Korniychuk voluntarily resigned from his post in connection with a criminal investigation against him. The leadership of Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc had accused him of working together with arch-rivals Party of Regions. Former member of All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" Natalia Korolevska was elected party leader on 23 December 2011. The party did not enter parliament in the 2014 elections.

Party leader: Natalia Korolevska
http://www.usdp.kiev.ua


Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (USDP)
The SDPU was originally founded in 1890 and re-established in 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 2006 elections the party was part of the Lazarenco Bloc, which only gained 0.30%, and therefore did not make it into parliament. It has failed to enter parliament since.

The SDPU is in favour of supporting democracy in the former Soviet Union and hopes Ukraine will be a member of the EU in the future.

Party leader: Yuriy O. Buzdugan
The SDPU is an observer member of the Socialist International. 


United Left and Peasants
On 17 December 2011 the unification on the basis of the Justice Party took place. The parties in question included the Justice Party, Popular Power, Ukrainian Farmer’s Democratic Party and All-Ukrainian Patriotic Union. The coordination council consisting of representatives of all five parties approved the political agreement and the new party was called United Left (‘socialists, farmers, social democrats, children of the war – for justice’). Stanislav Nikolaenko was elected leader of the new party. United Left positions itself as a modern socialist, social democrat party of a European type.

Party leader: Stanislav Nikolaenko
www.livi.org.ua


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OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES

Petro Poroshenko's Bloc
In August 2014 the congress of Solidarity Party has decided to rename the party the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko. The main objective of the party is to help Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, implementing his election promises, such as furthering Ukraine’s aim to become a member of the EU, enhancing social protection and ending corruption. Solidarity Party was set up in 2001 by Petro Poroshenko and was a spin-off of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine. Solidarity became dissolved in late 2013, but Poroshenko de facto prolonged the life of the party by renaming the party National Alliance of freedom and Ukrainian patriotism “Offensive”.

Although People’s Front won more seats through the proportional representation system, Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc received more seats through the constituencies. It is thus the biggest party in Ukrainian Parliament.

Party leader: Yuriy Lutsenko
http://solydarnist.org


People's Front
People’s Front party was created in 2014 by Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov. Many members of the new entity are former members of Batkivishina, including Yatsenyuk and Turchynov. Yatsenyuk and Turchynov were discontent with the decision of Batkivishina that Yulia Timoshenko would head the party list in the 2014 Parliamentary elections.

In September there were talks between People’s Front and Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc over joint participation in the elections. However, Yatsenyuk announced that: “We should be going into the elections together with the President, but I am not satisfied with the party of President Poroshenko. So we are different in camps, although we share the same viewpoints for the sake of change and reforms.”

People’s Front won the popular vote during the 2014 Parliamentary elections, but did not get as many constituency seats. Therefore Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc became the largest party in Ukrainian Parliament.

Party leader: Arseniy Yatsenyuk
nfront.org.ua


Self Reliance
Self Reliance, or Samopomich, is led by mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi. The party was founded in December 2012. Its ranks include many of the activists that had been involved in the Reanimation Reform Package that came out of part of the Maidan movement. The party finished third in the 2014 parliamentary elections. It won 33 seats; including 1 constituency seat.

Party leader: Andriy Sadovyi
samopomich.ua


Opposition Bloc
Although Opposition Bloc was founded in 2010, as ‘Leading Force’, it did not take part in the 2012 parliamentary elections. In the 2014 elections however, the party won 29 seats. Opposition Bloc intended to unify all political forces that did not endorse EuroMaidan.

Originally it was planned that Party of Regions, the biggest party in the 2012 elections, would be part of the Opposition Bloc. In the end, Party of Regions refused to do so, because there were “people tainted by corruption and to put it mildly, unpatriotic”. The Opposition Bloc for the 2014 elections were made up of several political parties: Party of Development of Ukraine, Center All-Ukrainian Union, Ukraine – Forward!, Labour Ukraine, New Politic and "State neutrality". Many individual members of Party of Regions ended up as candidates of Opposition Bloc.

Party leader: Yuriy Boyko
http://opposition.org.ua/


Radical Party
The official name of this party is Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko. Lyashko is the nationalist-populist leader of the party, and the party seems to be mainly based on his personality.

The party was founded in August 2010 as the Ukrainian Radical-Democratic Party. A year later, Lyashko was elected as party leader and the same day the name changed to Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko. During the 2012 elections, the party only received one seat in Parliament. During the 2014 elections the party won 22 seats.

Party leader: Oleh Lyashko
http://liashko.ua


Batkivishina (All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland")  
As the core party of the former Yulia Timoshenko Bloc (BYuT), Batkivishina has been in Parliament since the 2002 parliamentary elections. The Yulia Timoshenko Bloc (BYuT) was named after its leader and founder of the Fatherland Party (1999) Yulia Timoshenko.

After Yanukovych won the presidential elections in 2010 and the parliament ousted Timoshenko's coalition in a no-confidence vote, Timoshenko went into opposition again. Since May 2010 a number of criminal cases were brought against her. In October 2011 she was sentenced to 7 years in prison, after being found guilty of abuse of power. Timoshenko was released from jail in February 2014, following the protests at Maidan.

After banning the participation of political parties blocs in parliamentary elections in 2011, Batkivishina became the umbrella party with its election list including members of Reforms and Order Party, People's Movement of Ukraine, Front of Changes, For Ukraine, People's Self-Defense, Civil Position and Social Christian Party. In July 2012 members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People joined this list. This list named themselves United Opposition “Fatherland”. Because of the imprisonment of Timoshenko, Front for Change leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, headed the election list. The party remained the second largest in parliament after the 2012 elections.

On the 26th of October, 2014, Batkivishina barely passed the electoral threshold, winning 19 out of 450 seats in the Ukrainian Parliament. Many Batkivishina members have left the party and switched to the People’s Front, such as Yatsenyuk and Turchynov. Yatsenyuk and Turchynov were discontent with the decision of Batkivishina that Yulia Timoshenko would head the party list in the Parliamentary elections.

Party leader: Yulia Tymoshenko
http://www.tymoshenko.com.ua


Party of Regions
The Party of Regions was created in March 2001 when the Party of Regional Revival of Ukraine united with several other parties. Three quarters of the party’s members are from the Donbas region. During the 2002 parliamentary elections the party joined the pro-Kuchma ‘For a United Ukraine’ bloc. The party’s leader, Viktor Yanukovych, ran for president in 2004, with a strong pro-Russian and regionalist agenda. After he lost those elections, as a result of the Orange Revolution, the party moved into the opposition where it was one of the most visible parties. It frequently criticised the post-Orange Revolution government for its alleged preference for the Western parts of Ukraine and it gladly exacerbated the internal struggles in the government.

In 2010 Yanukovych won the presidential elections and he formed a new majority coalition centred around his party. The Party of Regions campaigned especially on issues like the status of the Russian language (calling for Russian as additional official state language) and socio-economic development (promising more jobs, a focus on industry and economic growth). The powerbase of the party lies fully in the eastern part of Ukraine.

During the Maidan protests several party members called for the disintegration of Ukraine and a union with Russia. In the aftermath, the party disassociated itself from Yanukovych for corruption and his escape. Since then many MPs have left the party’s parliamentary faction. In the run up to the October 2014 parliamentary elections, it was originally planned that the Party of Regions would be part of the Opposition Bloc. Nevertheless, in the end the Party of Regions refused to do so, because in the Opposition Bloc “people were tainted by corruption and to put it mildly, unpatriotic,” and the coalition did not came through. Party of Regions did not participate in the elections in the end.

Parliamentary leader: Oleksandr Yefremov
http://www.partyofregions.org.ua/eng/  


All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda"
The All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” (“Freedom”) was formed in February 2004 with the arrival of Oleh Tyahnybok as party leader. The party is the successor of the Social-National Party of Ukraine. Svoboda is a Ukrainian nationalist party that often voices opposition to perceived Russian influences in Ukraine. The party is known for its anti-Communist stance. The party views the dominating role of Ukraine's oligarchy as "devastating," and rather receives financial support from Ukraine's small and medium-sized businesses.

The party has been accused of racism and anti-Semitism, which it denies. Party leader Tyahnybok stated in November 2012 that “Svoboda is neither an anti-Semitic nor a xenophobic party nor an anti-Russian party. Svoboda is also not an anti-European party. Svoboda is simply and only a pro-Ukrainian party”. This “pro-Ukrainian” element can be seen in Svoboda's political program since the party wants to ban adoptions by non-Ukrainians of Ukrainian children, wants to abolish Crimean autonomy and is in favour of criminal prosecution for “Ukrainophobia”.

Svoboda went up from a marginal regional party to a power represented in the parliament within only a few years due to the party’s increasing exposure in Ukrainian media and due to the pro-Russian policies of the Azarov government.

Svoboda won unexpectedly 37 out of 450 seats, or 10,44% of the votes, during the parliamentary elections in October 2012. In the 2014 parliamentary elections Svoboda did not pass the 5% threshold. It did get 6 seats through the constituencies, which meant a loss of 31 compared to 2012. However, the party believed that it has in fact passed the threshold, and that the alleged falsifications were the result of efforts by Russian President Putin and his “agents” in Ukraine.

Party leader: Oleh Tyahnybok
http://www.svoboda.org.ua


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BIOGRAPHIES

petro_poroshenko.jpgPetro Poroshenko
President of Ukraine since 25 May 2014

Petro Poroshenko was born on 26 September 1965. He is a Ukrainian billionaire businessman, and got elected as the fifth and current President of Ukraine. Poroshenko served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2010, and as the Minister of Trade and Economic Development in 2012. From 2007 until 2012, he headed the Council of Ukraine's National Bank.

Outside politics, Poroshenko owns, along with a number of other companies, a large-scale confectionery business, which has earned him the nickname of 'Chocolate King'. He was elected president on 25 May 2014, capturing more than 54% of the vote in the first round, thereby winning outright and avoiding a runoff. During the parliamentary elections on 26 October 2014 his bloc became the largest party in Parliament.

Poroshenko is married to Maryna Perevedentseva since 1984. The couple has four children.


arseniy_yatsenyuk_small.jpgArseniy Yatsenyuk
Prime Minister since 26 February 2014


Arseniy Yatsenyuk was born on 22 May 1974. He is a Ukrainian politician, economist and lawyer, and is now the 15th Prime Minister of Ukraine. Yatsenyuk became PM after Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power during the Maidan protests in 2014. He served as Minister of Economy from 2005 to 2006, as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2007, and as Chairman of the Verkohovna Rada (Parliament) from 2007 to 2008. Yatsenyuk was one of the leaders of Batkivishina (All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland”). In September 2014 however, he started the new People’s Front Party. This party won 82 seats in the 2014 parliamentary elections.

In 2007, Yatsenyuk also established, together with Zbigniev Drzymala, the Open Ukraine Foundation. This foundation is a nonpartisan international philanthropic foundation to support public diplomacy and to raise the profile of Ukraine internationally. Open Ukraine works with the young generation of artists, scholars and community leaders who seek to implement social changes in the different regions.

Yatsenyuk is married to Tereza Viktorivna and they have two daughters: Khrystyna and Sofiya.


ustenko1.jpgPetro Ustenko
Leader of the Socialist Party of Ukraine

Petro Ustenko was born on August 4, 1960 in the village of Maksaky, Mena region. He began his career as a mechanic, in 1979 in the city of Chernihiv. In 1984 he graduated from the Kyiv Automobile and Highway Institute and started to work as a mechanical engineer for road construction and machines. Later, he worked as a senior research fellow at the Department of Theory of machines and equipment at the Kyiv Automobile and Highway Institute and a senior engineer of the Research Institute of electromechanical devices in Kiev.

In October 1984 he was elected secretary of the Komsomol committee in the Kyiv Pechersk district. From 1986 to 1988 he served in the Armed Forces and participated in the liquidation of the Chernobyl accident. In the 1998 parliamentary elections he was elected MP in a single-mandate constituency in Chernihiv.

Ustenko joined the ranks of the Socialist Party in February 2005. In November 2011, he was elected first vice-chairman of the SPU. On 28 April 2012 during the XVIII Congress of the Socialist Party, Ustenko was elected the new chairman of the Socialist Party of Ukraine.


timoshenko.jpgYulia Timoshenko
Leader of Batkivishina

Yulia Timoshenko was born in 1960 in Dnepropetrovsk. In 1984 she graduated from the Dnepropetrovsk State University, faculty of Economics. After graduation she worked as an engineer-economist in a machine-building plant in Dnepropetrovsk.

After that she went into private business and together with her husband headed several commercial enterprises, including oil and gas trade. The latter grew into a multi-million enterprise and was in trouble with the tax authorities by 1996. Timoshenko claimed the authorities were harassing her because of political reasons.

In 1997 Timoshenko became first deputy to the leader of the All-National Movement Hramada, Pavel Lazarenko and entered parliament for the first time in 1998. Both harshly criticised the Kuchma Presidency. In November 1998, however, she unexpectedly called for a dialogue with Kuchma, and left Lazrenko motivating this by his authoritarian rule of Hramada. She then created her own political force, Batkivishina.

In 2001 Timoshenko, while president of United Energy Systems of Ukraine, was removed from her position and arrested under charges of forging customs documents and smuggling gas between 1995 and 1997. After her release she called on Yushchenko to head the opposition movement.

In 2004 Bloc Yulia Timoshenko and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine announced the creation of the Force coalition to support Yushchenko’s candidacy in the 2004 presidential elections. As a result of repeat elections after mass demonstrations (dubbed ‘Orange Revolution’) Yushchenko became president and Timoshenko PM. The relationship between Yushchenko and Timoshenko was bad, and deteriorated even further over years among squabbles and power struggles. She was PM on and off. She ran for president in the 2010 election as the main rival to Victor Yanukovych, losing the Presidency by 3% of the votes.

Timoshenko was released from jail following the Maidan revolution, after being found guilty of abuse of power and being sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Yulia Timoshenko is married and has a daughter.


tyahnibok.jpgOleh Tyahnybok
Leader of The All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda”


Oleh Tyahnybok was born on 7 November 1968. He is a Ukrainian politician and leader of Svoboda. He is also a qualified surgeon. In 1998 he was first elected to Parliament, as a member of the Social-National Party. Four years later, he was reelected, but as a member of Victor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc. Just two years after this, he was expelled for mentioning Ukrainian Insurgent Army as an example of those who armed up against "Russians, Germans, Jews and other enemies who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state", in a speech.

Since February 2004 Tyahnybok has headed Svoboda. In April 2005, he co-signed an open letter to President Yushchenko calling for a parliamentary investigation into the "criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine."

In the 2012 Parliamentary elections Svoboda won 37 seats in Parliament. However, in the 2014 elections the party did not reach the 5% threshold in the party list voting. Nevertheless, they managed to win 6 seats through the constituencies. But it still means a big loss for the party.

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Flag of Ukraine Ukraine

Last update: 25 November 2014
Author: -

Population: 44,291,413 (July 2014 est.)
Prime Minister: Prime Minister Arseniy YATSENYUK (since 26 February 2014)
President: President Petro POROSHENKO (since 25 May 2014)
Governmental type: Republic
Ruling Coalition: Not yet known
Last Elections: Parliamentary elections, 26 October 2014
Next Election: Presidential elections, Spring 2019
Sister Parties: Social Democratic Party of Ukraine, SDPU (consultative)

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Sources Sources

BBC
Central Election Commission
Central Europe Review
Chernobyl.info
Committee to protect Journalists
Economist
Election World.org
EU External Relations
EU Institute for Security Studies
Freedom House – Nations in Transit 2005
Glavred info
Government Portal
International Herald Tribune
Liga
Kmu
Korrespondent
Kyiv Post
Mirror Weekly
NATO – Ukraine
OSCE/ ODIHR Election Reports
Rada portal
Reuters
RFE/RL
Rian
The Guardian
The Telegraph
Transitions Online
Ukrainian Government Portal
UA Monitor
Ukraine info
Ukrainian Monitor
Ukrainian Weekly
Ukrayinska Pravda
Unian News from Ukraine
US Department of State

Special thanks to
Oleh Kyriyenko
International Secretary of the SPU, Vitaly Shybko

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