Ukraine

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Contents

Background

Ukraine is a country of 47 million people, located in Europe on the southwestern border of Russia and the northern coast of the Black Sea. Kiev is the capital and largest city. Ukraine's GDP is $6300 per person. For decades, Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union, but it became independent on August 24, 1991. There is still a large Russian speaking minority, who mostly live in the eastern part of the country.

The president is Viktor A. Yushchenko, who took office on January 23, 2005, after massive street protests following a rigged election (see Orange Revolution). Yushchenko was forced to call a new election in March 2006, after losing a no-confidence vote, but his party finished a poor third place. Although no single party won a majority, Yanukovich finished first, and Timoshenko was second. The election was generally considered to be free and fair, and after four months of negotiations, a new government has formed in August 2006, with Viktor Yanukovich as Prime Minister.

Issues

Ukraine is engaged in a long-running conflict with Russia over control of natural gas pipelines. The dKos diary, Ukraine vs Russia: Tales of Pipelines and Dependence, gives a comprehensive overview of the dispute.

The Russian Navy maintains a base in Stavrapol, and the terms of the lease are a point of contention.

Ukraine inherited a small number of nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union, but it voluntarily gave them up in return for Western assistance.

Radiation released from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion left thousands of people with lingering illnesses, and made the area around the plant uninhabitable.

Political Leaders

Territorial Administrative Structures

References

  • Paul D'Anieri, Robert Kravchuk and Taras Kuzio. 1999. Politics and Society in Ukraine. Westview Press. ISBN 0813335388.

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