Who was Leonid Kravchuk?
- Leonid Kravchuk was the first president of independent Ukraine
- He died at the age of 88 on Tuesday
- He was born in the village of Velykyi Zhytyn
Leonid Kravchuk, who served as the first president of independent Ukraine, died at the age of 88 on Tuesday.
The news of his death was confirmed by Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, on Telegram. Yermak did not provide too many details about the Ukrainian leader’s cause of death.
Kravchuk’s early life
Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk was born on January 10, 1934, to a peasant family in the then Polish village of Velykyi Zhytyn. His father, who served in Poland’s army during the 1930s, died on the frontlines during World War II.
In 1958, Kravchuk became a member of Ukraine's Communist Party. As he rose through the ranks, he joined Ukrainian Communist Party Bureau in 1989.
In 1990, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR.
On December 5, 1991, Kravchuk was elected in the country's first presidential election. The day also witnessed Ukrainians heavily voting to secede from the Soviet Union, with Kravchuk's support backing them up. This made him the first head of state of independent Ukraine.
Due to the country's political crisis, Kravchuk resigned from his presidency in 1994, only to run for a second term and be defeated.
Despite the end of his presidential reign, Kravchuk remained active in the political sphere and served as a member of the Verkhovna Rada from 1994 to 2006.
In 2020, he was chosen to represent the country at the Trilateral Contact Group, replacing former president Leonid Kuchma. He served the role until February 2022.
In 1957, Kravchuk tied the knot with Antonina Mykhailivna Mishura, a mathematics teacher. Former US First Lady Barbara Bush, in her memoir, defined Mishura as “the nicest young woman, a math teacher with absolutely no interest in politics".
Mishura and Kravchuk welcomed their son, Oleksandr Leonidovych Kravchuk, in 1959. Kravchuk had two grandkids and one great-granddaughter.