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|4th Mayor of Kiev|
April 20, 2006 – June 3, 2012
|Preceded by||Oleksandr Omelchenko|
November 25, 1951 |
Kharkiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, USSR
|Political party||Christian Liberal Party of Ukraine|
|Children||Daughter Kristina and son Stepan|
Leonid Mykhaylovych Chernovetskyi (Ukrainian: Леонід Миха́йлович Черновецький; born November 25, 1951 in Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR) is a former Mayor of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, from 2006 until the summer of 2012. Before his political career, he was a successful businessman, founder and controlling stakeholder of the Pravex Group and Pravex Bank, one of the largest banks in Ukraine. Since the appointment by President Viktor Yanukovych of Oleksandr Popov as Head of Kiev City State Administration on 16 November 2010, replacing Chernovetskyi, Chernovetskyi was deprived of any real decision-making role in Kiev. He tendered his resignation on 1 June 2012.
Chernovetskyi quit school when he was 14 and went to work as a fitter at an aviation factory, but soon returned to resume his education, graduating from the Kharkiv public school #4. From 1970 until 1972, Chernovetsky served his military obligations. In 1977, he graduated from the Kharkiv Law School (Харьковский юридический институт) with specialization in jurisprudence. He worked as the senior detective in the prosecutor's office of Kiev Oblast. In 1981, he returned to Kharkiv Law School attending aspirantura and obtained his doctorate in 1984 with a dissertation about Methods of investigation of plunders conducted by officials. Until 1989 he was a teacher at Kiev University.
Soon after perestroyka, he went into private business, becoming one of the earliest big businesspeople in Kiev. He founded the Pravex Group (Ukrainian: Правекс, an abbreviated from "Law, Economics and Sociology"). Later the banking division of the Pravex Group rose into the Pravex Bank - one of the largest banks in Ukraine, possessing a dense network of offices in Kiev and other regions. In 2001, Chernovestkyi and his bank founded the "Kiev Bank Union" banking association. Pravex Bank was sold in 2008 to Banca Intesa São Paulo for 509 million euros. Chernovetskyi has acknowledged giving millions in bribes during his days as a businessman.
On August 18, 2008 President Victor Yushchenko granted him the Order of Yaroslav the Wise, though it was harshly opposed by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who urged to "stop granting decorations to corruptionists".
Chernovestkyi is a member of the Embassy of God, an evangelical church founded by Nigerian immigrant Sunday Adelaja. He is also a longtime philanthropist of Kiev, caring for the city's old and poor.
Chernovetskyi was nicknamed "Cosmos" (Ukrainian: Космос) after he publicly announced that he intends to fly in outer space with his cat. However, that name got stuck with him later due to his non-ordinary administrative and political decisions and announcements that have been viewed as "bizarre". He has sung at rallies and offered to auction off his kisses. That behavior prompted some officials to call for a medical examination into whether he is mentally healthy to govern the city. In response, Chernovetsky posed on March 18, 2009 in tight swimming trunks in front of scores of reporters to try to show he was both physically and mentally fit.
Chernovestkyi was the subject of several personal and political attacks when he took office as mayor of Kiev. Some were critical about his lack of experience and his authoritarianism. Others considered him off-balance or speculated that he has drug or alcohol problems. However, none of these accusations have been proven to date.
Pravex Bank, one of the largest retail banks of Ukraine formerly controlled by Chernovestkyi and his family, was rumoured to submit its new employees to a polygraph test and to use coercive methods to recover impaired loans. However, the Bank came out to be one of the most profitable financial institutions in Ukraine despite strong competition from foreign-owned banks.
In 2003, Chernovestkyi made headlines for his links to the deaths of two pedestrians who had died on separate occasions after being run over at high speed by cars linked to Chernovetsky on the road leading to his mansion in the elite Koncha Zaspa residential neighborhood. Chernovetsky, who is a collector of expensive souped-up automobiles, was behind the wheel in the second incident; his wife was a passenger in the first. Neither Chernovetsky nor his driver has been found guilty of any wrongdoing in connection with the incidents.
On February 16, 2010 the Kiev city administration denied reports that Chernovetskyi's daughter Khrystyna Chernovetska was robbed in France on February 15, 2010 after foreign media had reported that Chernovetska had €4.5 million worth of jewels stolen in Paris.
In April 2011, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for Chernovetskyi's son-in-law Viacheslav Suprunenko, a member of the Kiev city council's Chernovetskyi Bloc faction. According to Kyiv Post, he was arrested in Italy in May 2011.
Chernovetskyi is the leader of the Christian Liberal Party of Ukraine. He joined the party in 1996 and was elected to the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, representing one of Kiev's constituencies. He was reelected in 1998 and 2002. During his last term (2002–2006) he was a member of the Committee of National Budget and head of the Committee of a Control of Budget Spending. He also was a member of the Our Ukraine fraction in Parliament. In 1998-1999 Chernovestkyi was a co-chair, and in 1999-2000 the chair of the "For Beautiful Ukraine" party. From 1997 to 2001 he was a member of the Economic Advisory Council to the President of Ukraine.
- 2004 presidential elections
Chernovestkyi was a self-nominated candidate in the 2004 presidential election, believed to be one of the "technical candidates" whose true mission was to assist Viktor Yushchenko's struggle for the presidency by placing additional representatives in electoral commissions.
- 2006 parliamentary and mayor elections
According to the Kiev city election commission, Chernovetskyi garnered 32 percent of the vote to win the election for mayor of Kiev. Vitali Klitschko placed second with 24 percent and incumbent Oleksandr Omelchenko placed third with 21 percent. Opponents say Chernovetskyi won because of a dirty campaign marred by bribing impoverished elderly voters with food; Chernovetsky has denied this. Chernovetskyi was also elected to the Verkhovna Rada in the list of the Our Ukraine Bloc, but had to reject the parliamentary seat.
- 2008 snap Kiev local election and political unrest
- 2009 Klychko - Chernovetsky stand-off
On February 6, 2009, the Vitaliy Klychko Bloc stated it will apply to the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers, the National Security and Defense Council, and the Kiev prosecutor's office with a request to take into consideration the unlawfulness of Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi actions and to call early mayoral elections in the city. Earlier On December 12, 2008 Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko also hinted that new early mayoral elections should be held again in Kiev. This was based on Tymoshenko's disapprove of the handling of Chernovetskyi of the local energy crises of December 2008 when the Kyivenergo utility company began cutting the supply of hot water to about 5,000 homes in Kiev because of the Kiev municipal administration's failure to compensate the company for the difference between the tariffs charged by Kyivenerho and the actual cost of its services. Tymoshenko accuses Leonid Chernovetskyi of using money from the municipal budget to finance his election campaign (and so there were insufficient funds to pay Kyivenerho).
Chernovetskyi had become unpopular among the residents of Kiev. On March 13, 2009 a Verkhovna Rada temporary commission on the issues of investigating violations of legislation by the officials of the Kiev city state administration and the Kiev city council came to the conclusion that it was necessary to examine the mental and physical state of Chernovetskyi, however, the procedure could be performed against his will only under a court ruling.
- Yanukovych presidency
A March 2010 poll indicated that a large majority of Kiev residents (more than 89%) were unhappy with his work and would like the mayor to resign without delays (80%). On November 15, 2010 President Viktor Yanukovych dismissed Leonid Chernovetskyi from the post of Head of the Kiev's State Administration and appointed Oleksandr Popov to this post. Popov is seen as Chernovetsky's replacement since he was not elected but appointed by President Viktor Yanukovich. The appointment was made possible by the Ukraine's national parliament which had amended the law on “the capital of Ukraine – hero city of Kiev” on September 7, 2010 making it possible for the President to appoint the chairman of the city administration at his discretion (before the amendments the elected Kiev mayor was automatically appointed head of the city administration). Another presidential decree relieved Chernovitsky of the office "head of the Kiev State Administration", while still preserving the post of Kiev mayor.
Popov stated early 2011 "we've definitely limited the activity of the city council and the mayor to some extent". In November 2010 Prime Minister Mykola Azarov compared Chernovetsky to the Queen of England, saying he had a title but no official decision-making role. The Azarov Government then opened several investigations into the allegedly illegal sale of city land and property by Chernovetsky's top officials and then sales of those lands to friends and their companies. By then Chernovetsky was not to be seen in Kiev and rumors appeared he was in "quasi-retirement" in Switzerland, was seeking political asylum in Israel or that he had secretly tendered his resignation. In a pressconference on January 28, 2011 Prime Minister Azarov asked Popov “to find by all means” Chernovetsky "to bring him back to the work". According to UNIAN Azarov "could not suppress a laugh" when asked about Chernovetsky. Popov has stated he last met with the mayor toward the end of 2010. Chernovetsky's spokeswoman Marta Hrymska told The Associated Press on 8 February 2011 in a phone text message that the mayor resumed duties after a vacation in Georgia. Commentators suggested that by failing to fulfill his duties, Chernovetsky was trying to force President Yanukovich to stop the investigations into his close aides and that Yanukovych was reluctant to see Chernovetsky go just yet and share power with a new mayor, because his protégé Popov, was unlikely to get elected. On February 24, 2011 Chernovetskyi did attend a meeting of the Kiev City Council.
On 3 August 2011 it was reported that Chernovetskyi has secretly left Ukraine and moved to Israel. According to Agence France Press, he was discovered by a crew of Ukrainian television channel 1+1 in an apartment in Tel Aviv. In a brief statement, Chernovetskyi, who was surprised they had found him, called it "an unofficial holiday". It had been reported earlier, that he has held Israeli citizenship since 1994, having run for president and for Kiev mayor while holding dual Israeli and Ukrainian citizenships in violation of Ukrainian law, which does not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship.
In February 2012 Chernovetskyi stated he will not run for re-election.
Chernovetsky tendered his resignation on 1 June 2012. The City Council accepted the early termination of office on 12 July 2012. The City Council decided the same day that Halyna Hereha would temporarily act as the mayor of the capital city.
Honours and awards
- Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 5th class (19 August 2008) - for his significant contribution to the socio-economic and cultural development of the Ukrainian state, significant work achievements and on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of Independence of Ukraine
- Order of Merit, 3rd class (23 August 2005) - for his significant contribution to the socio-economic, scientific and cultural development of Ukraine, significant work achievements and active citizenship activities
- Honoured Lawyer of Ukraine (4 October 1997) - for outstanding contribution to strengthening the rule of law, professionalism
- Commander of the Order of the Three Stars (Latvia, 19 June 2008)
- Order of Honour (Georgia, 2007)
- Kyiv City Council accepts Mayor Chernovetsky's resignation, Kyiv Post (12 July 2012)
- Kyiv mayor makes a declaration of love to Kyiv's people, sings two songs in protest against corruption, Interfax-Ukraine (13 February 2009)
- Chernovetsky says he will no longer run for Kyiv mayor, Kyiv Post (16 February 2012)
- Popov: Activity of city council and city head limited, Kyiv Post (February 1, 2011)
- Party of Regions leader: 'Pre-term mayoral elections in Kyiv are pointless', Kyiv Post (November 18, 2011)
- #14 Richest: Leonid Chernovetsky, 59, Kyiv Post (December 17, 2010)
- Hereha sends petition to parliament on holding of early mayoral election in Kyiv, Kyiv Post (19 July 2012)
- Danilova, Maria (February 8, 2011). "Missing Kiev mayor back to work - maybe". msnbc.com.
- "БЮТ рекомендує президентові забрати орден у Черновецького". NEWSru.ua. August 22, 2008.
- "Tymoshenko attended Embassy of God church, says Kyiv mayor". Interfax-Ukraine. 26 March 2009.
- Mayor to buy Arsenal football club, Kyiv Post (19 January 2009)
- Рабинович: "У Черновецкого внутри большая любовь к спорту", football.ua (16 January 2009) (Russian)
- Disc with 'heartbreaking songs' of the 1980s by Kyiv mayor to be released in a week, Interfax-Ukraine (4 February 2009)
- Cartoon, Kyiv Post (June 4, 2010)
- Photos: Statement of Leonid Chernovetsky for press, UNIAN (March 18, 2009)
- Levy, Clifford J. (14 August 2009). "Is the Mayor Fit for Office? No Sure Answer". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-15.
- "'Kyiv gets first new mayor in decade'". Kyiv Post. 29 March 2006.
- "Kiev mayor’s daughter robbed in Paris of 4.5 million euros in jewels". France 24. February 16, 2010.
- "17 Deputies Quit Chernovetskyi Bloc Faction At Kyiv City Council". Ukrainian News Agency. April 28, 2011.
- "Runaway Kyiv city council deputy detained in Italy". Kyiv Post. May 25.
- "Leader of the Christian-Liberal Party of Ukraine Leonid Mikhailovich Chernovetskiy". Christian Liberal Party of Ukraine (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2008-02-24. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- "Kiev's 'cosmic' mayor draws protests. Residents angry at price hikes picket office of eccentric Speedo-wearer". 2009-03-26.
- Liang, Yan (May 29, 2008). "Ukraine's Kiev mayor wins re-election". www.chinaview.cn (Xinhua). Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- Klychko Bloc In Kyiv Council Seeking Early Termination Of Chernovetskyi's Powers, Ukrainian News Agency (February 6, 2009)
- Tymoshenko Confident That Early Mayoral Elections Will Be Repeated In Kyiv, Ukrainian News Agency (December 12, 2008)
- Cabinet Of Ministers To Consider Problems Arising In Kyiv, Ukrainian News Agency (December 12, 2008)
- Poll: 80 percent of Kyivans want mayor to resign, Kyiv Post (26 March 2009)
- Rada investigating commission considers it necessary to examine mental and physical state of Kyiv mayor, Interfax-Ukraine (13 March 2009)
- Chernovetskyi plans to run for president of Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine (26 March 2009)
- Yanukovych dismissed Chernovetskyi, UNIAN (November 16, 2010)
- Political Risks and Political Stability in Ukraine, UCIPR (October 2010)
- Azarov asks “to find Chernovetskyi by all means”, UNIAN (January 28, 2011)
- Events by themes: Chernovetsky opened sitting of Kiev city council, UNIAN (February 24, 2011)
- "Kiev's vanishing mayor 'reappears in Israel'". AFP.
- "Ukraine's Justice Ministry says it knows nothing about Chernovetsky's second citizenship". Kyiv Post. 3 August 2011.
- Kiev City Council - Biography (Ukrainian)
- 'Mayoral race results from across country.' 5 Kanal. 31 March 2006.
-  [Sportmone]. 15 September 2009.
- (Ukrainian) Kievan Cake with a surprise, Ukrayinska Pravda, March 3, 2006
- Personal website (English)/(Ukrainian)/(Russian)
- Chernovetsky's Profile (Russian)
- Leonid Chernovetsky's Block
|Mayor of Kiev
Halyna Hereha (acting)