The first president of independent Ukraine and one of the gravediggers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Leonid Kravchuk, died at the age of 88 in the midst of an invasion of the country by Russia, report the Mayor of kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, and the adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko.

“It is a great loss for all of Ukraine. Today, Leonid Kravchuk is dead. The first President of Ukraine, the first Speaker of the Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] and the man who founded the modern Ukrainian state,” Klitschko wrote.

A former apparatchik, he distanced himself from the Communist Party in 1991. Mr. Kravchuk was the last leader of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, between 1990 and 1991, before being the first president of independent Ukraine, from 1991 to 1994.

On August 21, 2001, he was awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine with the state order for his outstanding personal contribution to the formation and development of an independent Ukrainian state.

He died nearly a week after Stanislav Chouchkevich, at the age of 87. Mr. Shuchkevich was the first president of independent Belarus and one of the gravediggers of the USSR. With Leonid Kravchuk and the Russian Boris Yeltsin, they had signed the Minsk agreement, shortly after forcing Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, to resign, thus signing the death warrant of the Soviet empire that he then tried to reform.


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