Sunday, November 6, 2011

Leonid Chernovetskyi

Leonid Mykhaylovych Chernovetskyi (born November 25, 1951 in Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR) is the incumbent Mayor of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. 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.

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 till 1972 Chernovetsky served his military obligations. In 1977 he graduated from the Kharkiv Law School 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 . 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.

In January 2009 Chernovitskyi bought FC Arsenal Kyiv for 1 Hryvnia from Ukrainian businessman Vadim Rabinovich.

In February 2009 he released a compact disc with "popular songs of the 1980s" sung by him.

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.

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