Leonid Danylovych Kuchma (born 9 August 1938) was the second President of independent Ukraine from 19 July 1994, to 23 January 2005. Kuchma took office after winning the 1994 presidential election against his rival, incumbent Leonid Kravchuk. Kuchma won re-election for an additional 5-year term in 1999.
His presidency was surrounded by numerous corruption scandals and the lessening of media freedoms. Corruption accelerated after Kuchma's election in 1994, but in 2000–2001, his power began to weaken in the face of exposures in the media.
Under his watch the Ukrainian economy continued to decline until 1999, whereas growth was recorded since 2000, bringing relative prosperity to some segments of urban residents. During his presidency, Ukrainian-Russian ties began to improve.
Kuchma was born in a village of Chaikine Chernihiv Oblast. His father Danylo Prokopovych (1901–1942) had died at the field hospital 756 near a village of Novoselytsia during World War II and his mother Paraska Trokhymivna worked at a farm. Kuchma attended the Kostoborove general education school in the neighboring Semenivka Raion. He enrolled to Dnipropetrovsk National University and graduated it in 1960 with a degree in rocket science as an engineer-mechanic. Kuchma is a candidate of technical sciences. The same year he joined the Communist Party of Soviet Union.
After graduation Kuchma worked in a field of aerospace engineering for the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau. At 28 he became a technical tests director at Baikonur (Kazakh SSR). There are speculations that Kuchma's earlier career was significantly boosted by his marriage to Lyudmila Mykolaivna Kuchma (Talalayeva) (1967), an adopted daughter of a chief engineer of Yuzhmash and later a minister of mid-class machine-building of USSR Gennadiy Tumanov. At 38 Kuchma became the Communist party chairman at Yuzhmash and a member of the Central Committee of Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine. He was a delegate of the 27th and 28th Congresses of the Communist Party of Soviet Union.
In 1982 Kuchma was appointed the first deputy of general design engineer and from 1986 to 1992 he held position of a general director at the manufacturing complex "Yuzhny Machine-building Plant". From 1990 to 1992 Kuchma was a member of the Ukrainian parliament (1st (12) convocation, Committee on Defence and State Security), and became Prime Minister of Ukraine in 1992. In 1991 he became one of the founders of the Academy of technological sciences of Ukraine.
Family and personal life
Leonid Kuchma is married, his spouse, Lyudmila Kuchma, is the Honourary President of the National Fund of Social Protection of Mothers and Children "Ukraine to Children". Kuchma's only daughter Elena Franchuk founded the ANTIAIDS Foundation in 2003. She is married to politician Viktor Pinchuk, a famous industrialist and philanthropist whose Victor Pinchuk Foundation regularly hosts a philanthropic forum at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. Olena Pinchuk has a son Roman (born in 1991, from her previous marriage with Ukrainian businessman Igor Franchuk) who attends Brown University, and two daughters Viktor Pinchuk, Katerina (born in 2003) and Veronica (2011).
According to the Ukrainian magazine Focus Olena Pinchuk placed among the top 10 most influential women in Ukraine for 2010.
Kuchma was an amateur guitar player in his younger years. He was also known for his skill at the complicated card game preferans. He was allowed to keep the state-owned dacha in Koncha-Zaspa for his personal use upon completion of his state duties. The government order #15-r that would allowed for Kuchma to keep his estate was signed by the acting prime-minister Mykola Azarov on 19 January 2005. Kuchma was also allowed to keep his full presidential salary and all the service personnel along with two state-owned vehicles. That order also stated that for everything it would paid out of the state budget.
From : www.wikipedia.org