One year ago, on May 10, the first president of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, passed away. His name is associated with the country’s gaining independence and the loss of nuclear weapons. Even now, remembering him, the witnesses of that time say “he could walk between the raindrops.” Leonid Kravchuk was 88 years old when he died. For how Ukraine remembers him – read on.

Until the end of his years, Leonid Kravchuk considered Ukraines independence to be the greatest achievement of his life. Yes it depended not only on him, but it was his determination at that time that played a significant role.

The native of Western Ukraine became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1958. And years later he became responsible for the ideology and propaganda of the Communist Party of Ukraine.


Contemporaries recall that when Kravchuk was elected head of the Ukrainian parliament, which was in the summer of 1990, the democrats considered it almost a loss of the struggle for a free Ukraine. Years later, the first president of independent Ukraine admitted that he wanted to break the system while in it.

Walk between the raindrops

For his ability to navigate between various sides, for his virtuosity and balance, Kravchuk has been called the one who walks between raindrops since the 90s.

 It was Kravchuk who, on August 24, 1991, after voting in the session hall of the parliament, announced the tally results: For indepence votes had won resoundingly. Thus, the resolution and the Act of Proclamation of Independence of Ukraine were adopted by the constitutional majority.

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I want to congratulate you and the people of Ukraine on the adoption of these important and fateful historical documents,” he said.

In December, Leonid Kravchuk became the first president of independent Ukraine. Kravchuks contemporaries, even those who were his opponents, admit that these were difficult times and he had to have considerable willpower to take this step at all independent of the Soviet Union.


The first important document signed by Kravchuk was the Bialowieza Agreement – agreeing on the termination of the Soviet Union. It was signed by three parties: Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

Kravchuk said more than once that he was called and asked not to make hasty decisions, and he answered: How can I do otherwise? The People have already voted.

Anthem, flag and coat of arms

During Leonid Kravchuk’s term in office, 171 states recognized the independence of Ukraine. The Armed Forces of Ukraine were formed and a national currency created. The state also adopted a national anthem, a flag and a coat of arms.


This is how independent Ukraine began. Those were difficult years. The economic crisis manifested itself in everything. The symbol of that time became a handcart, which was nicknamed kravchuchka.”

 As inflation soared in the early 90s, Ukrainians lost their jobs en masse. In order to somehow survive, they grew agricultural products and carried them to the market in bags.


 Those bags were heavy, so handcarts were used. They were jokingly nicknamed after the president. To this day, Ukrainians use the word kravchuchka.”

International relations

 Its important to understand that at the international level, Ukraine was known as a part of the Soviet Union. Today, the whole world admires the ability of Ukrainians to fight to the last breath.

 In 1991,Ukraine was an unknown word. Not all other nations even tried to recognize its independence.

 In fact, all international relations had to be started from scratch. For this, Kravchuk made international visits to Western countries. In some cases, he even arranged public speeches. In parallel with this, the diplomatic establishment was born.” Embassies appeared one by one.

 Nuclear weapons and the Ukrainian navy

 What Kravchuk is most often criticized for is related to military policy. In 1993, Ukraine signed the Massandriv Agreements with Russia.

 These are four treaties, according to which Ukraine actually gave up nuclear weapons and agreed to give the Black Sea Fleet to Russia, along with its infrastructure in Crimea to pay its gas debts. This was preceded by long disputes between the two countries for the fleet.


Could the president have done otherwise? We don’t know.

Ukraine was pressured not only by the Russian Federation, but also by the United States. Such news was received with despair by Ukrainian society, in particular the military.

After the signing of the Masandriv Agreements, Leonid Kravchuk lost support among the population and lost the special elections of 1994.

We have what we have or Kravchuk's post-presidential years

Another crowning phrase of Leonid Kravchuk concerned his opponent Leonid Kuchma. We have what we have is how Kravchuk described the activities of the second president of Ukraine.

He did not leave politics. But as before, he showed his cunning and virtuosity, jumping between two fires.

In some years Leonid Kravchuk supported the pro-Russian movement, in others he advocated the European integration of Ukraine. In the last period of his life, Kravchuk worked in a tripartite contact group regarding the settlement of events in Donbas.

The politician repeatedly emphasized that he had made many mistakes, but he always loved Ukraine. And no matter how his life turned out, he consciously acted in the interests of his state.

In one of his last interviews, Kravchuk recalled the day when he learned the results of the All-Ukrainian referendum the best day of his life. He didn’ot yet know that hed won the election, but he was happy because Ukrainians supported the independence of their country. And he always called signing the Bialowieza Agreement the most important act.


Leonid Kravchuk died on May 10, 2022 in Germany after a long illness. Within a week, the president was buried in his beloved Kyiv.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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Comments (2)
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The first president played for the russians and gave away 1100 nukes. Russia would never have attacked if Ukraine still had them.
Traitor that facilitated the invasion.
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Кравчучка - вовсе не только для сельского хозяйства использовалась. В первую очередь для передвижения челноков. Сразу видно, что автор очень молод )))