Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych (Ukrainian: Ві́ктор Фе́дорович Януко́вич, listen (help·info); born 9 July 1950) is a Ukrainian politician who was elected as the fourth President of Ukraine on 7 February 2010. He served as President from February 2010 until his removal from power in February 2014 as a result of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. He is currently in exile in Russia and wanted by Ukraine for high treason.
Yanukovych served as the governor of Donetsk Oblast, a province in eastern Ukraine, from 1997 to 2002. He was Prime Minister of Ukraine from 21 November 2002 to 31 December 2004, under President Leonid Kuchma. Yanukovych first ran for president in 2004: he advanced to the runoff election and was initially declared the winner against former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko. However, the election was fraught with allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation. This caused widespread citizen protests and Kyiv's Independence Square was occupied in what became known as the Orange Revolution. The Ukrainian Supreme Court nullified the runoff election and ordered a second runoff. Yanukovych lost this second election to Yushchenko. He served as Prime Minister for a second time from 4 August 2006 to 18 December 2007, under President Yushchenko.
Yanukovych was elected President in 2010, defeating Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The election was judged free and fair by international observers. November 2013 saw the beginning of a series of events that led to his ousting as President. Yanukovych rejected a pending EU association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia. This led to protests and the occupation of Kyiv's Independence Square, a series of events dubbed the "Euromaidan" by young pro-European Union Ukrainians. In January 2014, this developed into deadly clashes in Independence Square and in other areas across Ukraine, as Ukrainian citizens confronted the Berkut and other special police units. In February 2014, Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war, as violent clashes between protesters and special police forces led to many deaths and injuries. On 21 February 2014, Yanukovych claimed that, after lengthy discussions, he had reached an agreement with the opposition. Later that day, however, he left the capital for Kharkiv, saying his car was shot at as he left Kyiv, and travelling next to Crimea, and eventually to exile in southern Russia.
On 22 February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove him from his post, on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his duties. Parliament set 25 May as the date for the special election to select his replacement, and, two days later, issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of "mass killing of civilians." After his departure, Yanukovych conducted several press conferences. In one of these, he declared himself to remain "the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state elected in a free vote by Ukrainian citizens". On 18 June 2015, Yanukovych was officially deprived of the title of President of Ukraine by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. On 24 January 2019, he was sentenced in absentia to thirteen years' imprisonment for high treason by a Ukrainian court.
Early life and career
Viktor Yanukovych was born in the village of Zhukovka near Yenakiieve in Donetsk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. He endured a very hard childhood about which he has stated, "My childhood was difficult and hungry. I grew up without my mother who died when I was two. I went around bare-footed on the streets. I had to fight for myself every day." Yanukovych is of Russian, Polish, and Belarusian descent. Yanukovych is a surname of Belarusian origin; Yanuk being a derivative of the Catholic name Yan ("John"). His mother was a Russian nurse and his father was a Polish-Belarusian locomotive-driver, originally from Yanuki, in the Dokshytsy Raion of the Vitsebsk Voblast in present-day Belarus. By the time he was a teenager, Yanukovych had lost both his parents and was brought up by his Polish paternal grandmother, originally from Warsaw. His grandfather and great-grandparents were Lithuanian-Poles. Yanukovych has half-sisters from his father's remarriage, but has no contact with them.
On 15 December 1967, at the age of 17, Yanukovych was sentenced to three years incarceration for participating in a robbery and assault. On 8 June 1970 he was convicted for a second time on charges of assault. He was sentenced to two years of imprisonment and did not appeal against the verdict. Decades later, Yanukovych characterized his arrests and incarceration as "mistakes of youth".
In 1971, Yanukovych married Lyudmyla (née Nastenko), a niece of Yenakiyeve city judge Oleksandr Sazhyn.
In July 1974, Yanukovych enrolled at the Donetsk Polytechnic Institute. In 1976, as a second-year student, he was promoted to director of a small trucking division within the Ordzhonikidzeugol coal-mining company. In 1980, immediately upon graduating as an automobile mechanical-engineer, Yanukovych was appointed chief manager of a transportation company in Yenakiieve and admitted to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. His appointment as the chief manager marked the start of his managerial career as a regional transport executive. He held various positions in transport companies in Yenakiieve and Donetsk until 1996.