Yanukovych, Viktor Fedorovych

Yanukovych, Viktor Fedorovych vēkˈtôr fĕdˈərōvĭch yäno͞okōˈvĭch [key], 1950–, Ukrainian politician, president of Ukraine (2010–14). The graduate of a mining college and a polytechnic institute (1980), he was a mechanical engineer and member of the Soviet Communist party, and became manager of a transportation company. After Ukrainian independence (1991), he was named (1997) governor of the Donetsk region, and in 2002 was appointed prime minister by President Leonid Kuchma. Yanukovych increased both state control of the economy and social spending. Two years later, as leader of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, he was Kuchma's chosen candidate for president, running against opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Yushchenko led after the first round, but Yanukovych was proclaimed the winner after the Nov., 2004, runoff, sparking protests by Yushchenko's supporters and launching Ukraine's “Orange Revolution.” After the supreme court nullified the vote, Yanukovych lost the second runoff (December). In 2006, however, he reemerged as a skillful opposition leader, and forged a majority coalition following parliamentary elections and became prime minister. New elections in 2007 gave a narrow majority to the “Orange coalition” parties, and Yanukovych and his party went into the opposition.

In 2010 he won the presidential election's first round, then won the runoff, against Yulia Tymoshenko. His election led to reduced tensions with Russia and, in exchange for a reduced price for Russian natural gas, he extended Russia's lease on the Sevastopol naval base by 25 years. In late 2013 he rejected an association agreement with the European Union (in favor of Russian aid), sparking antigovernment demonstrations that caused (Feb., 2014) his government to collapse; he fled to Russia. The new government found that the treasury had been looted and other evidence of pervasive corruption under Yanukovych. In 2019 he was convicted in absentia of treason for having requested in 2014 that Russia intervene to restore his authority.

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