Leonid Kravchuk obituary

First president of an independent Ukraine who played a key role in bringing the Soviet Union to an end

Leonid Kravchuk, who has died after a long illness aged 88, was a Communist party bureaucrat who became the first president of independent Ukraine and a main player in bringing the Soviet Union to an ignominious end.

At a hastily arranged meeting in a remote hunting lodge in the Belavezha forest in Belarus in December 1991, Kravchuk joined Stanislav Shushkevich, a nuclear physicist who was the leader of Belarus, and Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian Federation, in signing a declaration that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Shushkevich died of Covid-19 a week ago. Yeltsin died in 2007.

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