Ukraine’s first president, Leonid Kravchuk, was buried at Baikove Cemetery in Kyiv on Tuesday, May 17, a week after his death at the age of 88, officials said.
Kravchuk served as the country’s first president between December 5, 1991, and July 19, 1994, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska, attended the funeral ceremony at the Ukrainian House venue in central Kyiv and laid flowers on Kravchuk’s coffin.
Also in attendance were the second, third, and fifth presidents of Ukraine – Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko, and Petro Poroshenko. The only former president not in attendance was Viktor Yanukovych, who was removed from power in 2014 and has since been exiled in Russia.
In a statement, Zelensky described Kravchuk as “the man to whom one could turn for wise advice” and whose work had been pivotal to the formation of an independent Ukraine.
“I am sure that his invaluable experience will help us in defeating the aggressor and building a strong, peaceful, European state of Ukraine,” Zelensky said.
In July 2020, Zelensky appointed Kravchuk as the new head of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) for Ukraine, a group formed of delegates from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe that aimed to seek a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in east Ukraine. Speaking about his decision to join the TCG, Kravchuk said, “I decided that if I can do something to speed up peace in Donbas, I will do it until my last breath.”
In July 2021, Ukrainian media reported that Kravchuk had spent at least a month in intensive care after undergoing heart surgery at the end of June. Credit: President of Ukraine via Storyful