Viktor Yanukovych: A Pro-Russia Presidency and its Fallout

Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych is an ex-Ukrainian politician, who served as the fourth president of Ukraine from 2010 to 2014. He also performed as the prime minister of Ukraine several times between 2002 and 2007 and was a leader of the Verkhovna Rada from 2006 to 2010. A member of the pro-Russian Party of Regions, Yanukovych was ousted from the presidency via a revolution in 2014, at the time neighbouring Russia initiated to annex Ukrainian Crimea and began the Russo-Ukrainian War. Since then, he has lived in exile in Russia. Yanukovych commented in the past that he desired Russian to become the second state language in Ukraine.

On 24 January 2019, a board of three judges of the Obolonskyi District Court discovered Yanukovych guilty of high treason and conspiracy in Russian military intervention in Ukraine.]

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin described to the UN Security Council on 4 March 2014 that Yanukovych had requested Russia to send troops across the Russia–Ukraine border to rescue civilians via a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2014.

On 26 November 2015, Yanukovych acquired a temporary asylum certificate in Russia for one year; later expanded until November 2017. In October 2017, this was expanded for another year. In 2017, Russian media indicated that Yanukovych was apparently living in Bakovka near Moscow, in a residence possessed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

On 28 February 2014, the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, Oleh Makhnitsky, formally requested Russia to extradite Yanukovych. Russian prosecutors declared that they had not received such a request from Ukraine. To date, Russia has refused to extradite him. Due to the Crimean crisis, he was placed on the US sanction list on 17 March 2014, an action which had already previously been thought of. He was sanctioned by the UK government on 6 March 2014 concerning the Russo-Ukrainian War. In 2021 Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr were sanctioned by the European Union concerning his ties to Russia.  In August 2023 Yanukovych would be sanctioned again following the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia undertook a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. On 2 March, Ukrayinska Pravda conveyed that Ukrainian intelligence sources acknowledged that Yanukovych was spotted in Minsk, Belarus and that Russia intended to announce Yanukovych as President of Ukraine in the event of Russian forces acquiring control of Kyiv. On 2 March 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine intruded on the Kyiv District Administrative Court in an attempt to physically intercept Yanukovych’s lawsuits to topple his removal of the constitutional powers as President of Ukraine to be heard. According to Ukrayinska Pravda’s sources, Yanukovych escaped Minsk on 7 March 2022, and again he disappeared from the public eye.

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