Childhood and Youth
The first president of Ukraine Leonid Makarovich Kravchuk was born on 10/1/1934 in the village Big Zhitin, which has entered the composition of the Rivne region of the Ukrainian SSR in 1939. By this time, Kravchuk’s native village was subordinated to the Volyn’ region of Poland.
Parents of the future politician were ordinary peasants. They worked for the Polish settlers, and his father was in the Polish cavalry during the Marshal Pilsudski time.
It was not possible to survive the Second World War without losses: Makar Kravchuk died at the front and was buried in a fraternal grave in Belarus. Mother died of a stroke in 1980.
After rural eight-year-school graduation in 1949, Leonid enters Rivne cooperative college where he studies Accounting. Leonid Kravchuk, who was raised by his mother and stepfather, did not succeed much in his studies. But he learned quickly yet while Stalin was in power: the main thing was not in outstanding abilities, but the diligent serving the party. Local party curators noticed the active boy and contributed to his successful entry to Kyiv University (now KNU) in 1953.
After graduation (1958) Leonid started his teacher’s career in Chernivtsi technical College. Kravchuk has been there for a year and a half. In 1960 he was invited to post of adviser-methodologist and lecturer’s house of political education. Later he became an assistant of the first department campaigning and propaganda Chernivtsi Regional Committee secretary. Next, Kravchuk was staged as a teacher of social sciences, making him a member of the CPSU.
It is worth noting that getting a party membership card at the age of 24 was no easier than buying a car that was taken out of production.
In 1967 future president of Ukraine finished graduate studies at the public science academy in Moscow (he had a master’s on the topic “Income Essence at Socialism and its Role in Collective Farm Production”).
For the next twenty years, Kravchuk had been building his career at Kyiv Central Committee KPU, gradually moving up the party hierarchy. He came through the positions from department agitation and propaganda manager to Political bureau member and second secretary of Central Committee of KPU, where he led the fight with zionism and religion as a main ideologist of the Ukrainian Communist Party. L. Kravchuk monotors church actions together with KGB, infringing Baptists and Pentecostals, and holds Ukrainian ROC (Russian Orthodox church on the territory of Ukraine)”under the cap”. His duties primarily included “burning ideological filth” in general and the struggle against the semi-mythical influence of the Vatican on the border regions of the Ukrainian SSR in particular.
In the midst of “perestroika”, Leonid Makarovich had a windfall. The inevitable parade of sovereignties coincided with forced staff changes on the republican level. Scherbitsky died, Ivashko quickly got tired of monkey business and transferred to Moscow. According to unwritten rules, the first leaders in the local party hierarchy became the first leaders of independent state. That’s why Kravchuk’s election as president in December 1991 didn’t surprise anyone.
Crimean autonomy and independence of Ukraine
On 03/17/1991 the first (and last) referendum took place. It was intended to determine the population will of already former Ukrainian SSR on preservation and transformation of the Soviet Union topic. But in fact this referendum “took place” even in winter, on January 20, 1991, in Crimea. At that time Kravchuk was already a chairman of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme council. That means, together with the leaders of the Crimean regional committee and regional council Nikolai Bagrov and Leonid Grach he shared the responsibility for the time bomb creation.
Prehistory was the following: in 1990 propaganda activities started in Crimea. It was aimed at “Crimean ASSR reiterating” and the possibility of its entering the UkrSSR. But Ukraine was not going to go out from the Soviet Union, so it was not important for the Crimean population which republics it is located in.
Activists of Crimean ASSR reproducing that stopped its existence in the summer of 1945, actively encouraged citizens to support this initiative. And though it was Crimean-Tatar, not Russian autonomy, Crimeans, were tempted by the prospects of a new “own independence”. As a result the question of re-establishing the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as a subject of the USSR and a party to the Union Agreement was submitted to a referendum. But the Crimean autonomy “reiteration” in the form of a USSR subject was virtually impossible, because the Crimea, as long as it has existed, has never had the status of a union republic. Thus, this territory was only a national (Tatar) autonomy as a part of the RSFSR. The Crimean Communists intended to proclaim a new sixteenth Federal Republic, which could have been annexed to the USSR. Kravchuk arrived in Crimea on November, 12, 1990, at a special session of the Crimean regional council. There he persuaded the Azerbaijan leaders not to hold a referendum, promising to give “autonomy from above.” After a while, the participants in this sitting recalled the words of Kravchuk that he “both a tricolor flag, and a yellow-blue one are unpleasant.” As a result, the Kravchuk project was embodied, and the Crimea became an autonomy within Ukraine. Of course, Kravchuk could have refused, and no autonomy would have appeared. After all, he could have said “no” to inquires of the Donbass autonomy as well as Transcarpathian, Bukovina’s and Odessa’s. But Leonid Makarovich did not do this, and the reason is unknown. In general, during 1991, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada took quite a few steps, the question to which remained unanswered.
With aslight victory, the former fighter against the ideological disorder in the Communist Party made him relaxed. It turned out that Kravchuk was able to speak beautifully, but not to act or to lift the collapsed economy. After failures at the international level (Massandra agreements and the Budapest memorandum), the head of state rashly decided to hold early presidential elections. He didn’t take into account the fact oligarchs have already agreed behind him to promote the candidature of Leonid Kuchma. Kuchma was ready to work for the benefit of “big business” and make a dialogue with Russia at the same time.
The defeat in the second round did not just knock Kravchuk out of big politics, but made him a third-role-person. He was elected to parliament three times in a row: first as an independent nominee, and then according to the lists of the pro-Russian SDPU (o). However, he no longer attracted much attention from the press and electorate. The last decisive attempt to remind about himself was the intention to be elected to the Verkhovna Rada in 2006 from the opposition block “NeTak!” side. But after the Orange Revolution, the demand for conservatism was small, and this political project was only remembered for its inadequate election promo.
The block “NeTak” relied on Kravchuk, but failed due to a number of reasons.
Leonid Kravchuk today
Now the first president of independent Ukraine performs the role of a respected elder.
Quoting Leonid Makarovich: “People should understand: they hire power and keep it to serve them, not the power becomes the main and rules the people. The people should have the authority to force these people to work in Ukraine. And to deprive those who do not want to. That’s all”.