Profile: Viktor Yushchenko

The man to watch in Ukraine is the highly popular 50-year-old Viktor Yushchenko, now fighting a rare disease that has disfigured his once handsome face.

    The former national bank chief is running on a pro-west platform

    Born in 1954, Yushchenko is a teacher's son who grew up in the tiny town of Khoruzhivka, where he got a job as a banker after graduating from Ternopil Financial Economic University in western Ukraine.

    He served as head of Ukraine's national bank as from 1993 and became the country's prime minister in 1999 after surviving a corruption scandal at the central bank.

    Dismissed as PM

    While many analysts thought that President Leonid Kuchma was preparing him to become his successor, the president instead dismissed Yushchenko in 2001.

    Yushchenko then turned to opposition and became head of Our Ukraine bloc, demanding fundamental political change.

    His popularity on the Ukrainian street was confirmed when his bloc managed to win enough votes at the following parliamentary elections to seriously challenge the authorities.

    Protesting elections

    He led protests against what he believed was widespread cheating by the authorities during the November 2004 presidential poll, managed to get the parliament to vote no-confidence in the government, and get the supreme court to declare the election results void.

    Yushchenko is said to be an ally of the West who also wants to maintain good relations with the "strategic partner" Russia.

    Yushchenko accuses his opponents of trying to poison him, an alleged attempt which left scars and blisters on his face weeks before the crucial vote.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Thou Shalt Not Kill: Israel's Hilltop Youth

    Thou Shalt Not Kill: Israel's Hilltop Youth

    Meet the hardline group willing to do anything, including going against their government, to claim land for Israel.