Kravchuk, Leonid Makarovich
, 1934-, Ukrainian leader, president of Ukraine (1991-94), b. Velyky Zhityn, Ukraine. A political economist and long-time Communist party ideologue, he became chairman of Ukraine's Supreme Soviet in 1990. When hard-liners attempted to overthrow Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev
in 1991, Kravchuk did not initially oppose the coup. However, he abruptly reversed himself and adopted nationalist views, resigning from the party and strongly advocating Ukrainian independence. In Dec., 1991, he became Ukraine's first popularly elected president, as Ukrainians simultaneously voted for independence. A leading force in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States
, he clashed with the parliament over Ukraine's slow pace of economic reform. During his tenure Ukraine suffered economic reverses and frequently quarreled with Russia. He failed to win a second presidential term in 1994 and was succeeded by Leonid Kuchma
; Kravchuk was subsequently elected to parliament.
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