Leonid Kravtchuk

Article

May 23, 2022

Leonid Makarovytch Kravchuk (Ukrainian: Леонід Макарович Кравчук) is a Ukrainian statesman born on January 10, 1934 in Żytyń (in) (then in Poland, present-day Ukraine) and died on May 10, 2022 in Munich (Germany). Kravtchouk, after a doctorate in economics, joined the Ukrainian Communist Party, where he rose through the ranks. He became a member of the Supreme Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and number two of the Ukrainian Communist Party in charge of ideology. He was the last leader of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, from 1990 to 1991. Faced with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s, this Soviet regime apparatchik rallied to the Ukrainian nationalist cause out of pragmatism. . His Ukrainian origins and his knowledge of the workings of the regime in place apparently make him the ideal man to lead Ukraine's perilous transition towards independence and democracy. Also after the independence of Ukraine in 1991, he became its first president. Kravchuk faces enormous challenges during his term as president: defining a constitution, maintaining Ukraine's independence from a Russia that is trying to gain the upper hand over the states resulting from the break-up of the Union Soviet Union, rebuild the entire administrative apparatus, manage a particularly painful economic transition due to the intertwining of the Ukrainian and Russian economies. In practice Kravchuk, who wields significant powers within the framework of a quasi-presidential regime, opts for the status quo by keeping the former communist leaders in their place in all the key positions: within the party in power, at the head of the regions and in the ministries involved in industrial policy. A man of consensus in a context that would have required an iron fist, he failed to impose the necessary reforms and to have a constitution passed. It nevertheless works for a rapprochement with the European Union. Kravchuk was defeated by Leonid Kuchma in the 1994 presidential election.

Biography

Childhood, training and career (from 1934)

Leonid Kravtchouk was born on January 10, 1934 in Velykyi Jytyn (uk) (Rivne region) in Volhynia, which was part of Poland at the time and is now located in Ukraine. When he was 5 years old, Volhynia was annexed by the Soviet Union following the invasion of Poland, in accordance with the provisions of the German-Soviet Pact. After the war, he studied economics and defended a doctoral thesis in 1958 at the University of kyiv. In 1970 he graduated from the Academy of Social Sciences of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He was a professor at the Chernivtsi financial college from 1958 to 1960 and a consultant-didactician from 1960 to 1967.

Rise to the Communist Party (1970-1980)

Between 1970 and 1988, Leonid Kravchuk was successively head of sector, inspector, assistant to the secretary, deputy head of the department then head of the agitation and propaganda department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine. In 1980, he became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the highest governing body of the Soviet Union, while in Ukraine he became number 2 of the party, in charge of ideology.

Transition to independence (1986-1991)

While Gorbachev's policy of glasnost shook the USSR and in particular Ukraine where the Ukrainian nationalist movement took off, Leonid Kravchuk, thanks to his origins (Volhynia is indeed the home of Ukrainian nationalism) and his role in the party, manages to establish itself as an intermediary between the regime in place and the Rukh, a party created at the end of the 1980s which embodies this Ukrainian nationalist movement. In the tournament