Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to restore power to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych if his forces manage to capture Kyiv and remove the country’s current elected leader, according to a Ukrainian news site.
Yanukovych, who has been in exile in Russia since fleeing Ukraine in 2014, is currently in Belarus awaiting the capture of Kyiv by Russian troops and Putin proclaiming him as the country’s new president, independent online publication Pravda Ukraine said, citing Ukrainian intelligence officials.
Who is Viktor Yanukovych?
Yanukovych, 72, was Ukraine’s president from 2010 until he was ousted in February 2014, following widespread protests over his decision to agree to the country’s closer alliance with the European Union to become a future member of the rejection group. Instead, seek a financial bailout from Russia and forge closer ties with Moscow.
Many Ukrainians and many international civil society groups have also criticized Yanukovych for running a corrupt government, including allegations of misappropriation of government funds. (Yanukovych denies misappropriation of government funds.) He favors a small group of wealthy Ukrainian business tycoons, including his own son Alexander Yanukovych and members of his extended family. He also accumulated a great deal of personal wealth.
Although Yanukovych spent most of his life as a middle-class businessman, then a civil servant and politician, he lived a flamboyant lifestyle. His mansion on the outskirts of Kyiv, called Mezhyhirya, consists of a huge wooden house with an all-copper roof, a private zoo, an underground shooting range, tennis courts, a bowling alley and an 18-hole golf course.
Born into a poor family in the Russian-speaking Donetsk region of the Donbas region, Yanukovych was the head of a freight forwarder and transport company before being appointed Donetsk in 1996 and 1997 Deputy Commissioner and Head of the State Regional Government.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma appointed Yanukovych as the country’s prime minister in 2002, and his appointment was reluctantly confirmed by the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s legislature. He is considered pro-Russian, although he has publicly stated that he supports Ukraine’s eventual EU membership. Despite opposition to Ukraine joining NATO, his cabinet also agreed to send Ukrainian soldiers to support the U.S.-led coalition for the 2003 Iraq War.
In 2003, Yanukovych ran for president, and most of his support came from southern and eastern Ukraine, which are traditionally seen as more pro-Russian. On the first ballot in late October, no candidate passed the 50 percent threshold, so the runoff took place a month later. That vote made Yanukovych the winner, but the election was tainted by widespread allegations of fraud by Ukrainian civil society groups and international election observers.
This led to two months of protests, civil disobedience and a general strike, a period known as Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. (The demonstrators adopted the orange campaign color of Yanukovych’s opponent, Viktor Yushenko.) Ukraine’s Supreme Court annulled the election and ordered new elections in late December 2004, in which Yushenko was declared the winner By.
Immediately after Yushenko’s victory, Ukraine’s parliament passed a non-binding motion of no confidence in Yanukovych’s government and called on outgoing President Kuchma to appoint an interim government. Instead, Yanukovych resigned, later saying he did so to avoid political violence.
After his resignation, Yanukovych led the main opposition party in parliament against then Prime Minister Tymoshenko’s coalition government. At the same time, Yunokovych’s party “Party of Regions” clearly moved closer to Russia, and signed a formal cooperation agreement with the Russian party United Russia.