Viktor Yanukovych: who is ousted former Ukrainian leader, and could Russia reinstate pro-Moscow president?

Viktor Yanukovych was disposed as Ukrainian president in 2014

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In the event that Russia prevails in its invasion of Ukraine, the country has lined up a new leader ready to take his place as head of state.

Viktor Yanukovych is the man Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see in Ukraine’s top job should his country defeat current President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But who is he and why is Russia backing him as Ukraine’s new leader?

Here’s everything you need to know about Viktor Yanukovych.

Who is Viktor Yanukovych?

Viktor Yanukovych is a 71-year-old Ukrainian politician and former statesman.

He served as Ukrainian president between 2010 and 2014, having previously served as Prime Minister.

Yanukovych was removed from office in 2014 during a period of political turmoil in the country.

Why was Viktor Yanukovych removed from office?

Protesters clashed with riot police in Kyiv after Yanukovych rejected wishes to join the EU and refused to sign a political and trade agreement.

Instead he wanted to create closer ties to Russia economically and politically.

This caused unrest in Ukraine and led to Yanukovych being ousted from office, to be replaced with acting president Oleksandr Turchynov.

Why is Viktor Yanukovych the Kremlin’s pick for Ukraine’s next leader?

Throughout his political career, Yanukovych has maintained close ties to Russia and back pro-Russian policy.

After he was ousted from office, Yanukovych was given exile in Russia, where he currently resides.

He has also remained close to the Kremlin during this time.

President Putin will be looking to implement a pro-Russian leader into Ukraine in the event that Russia succeeds in the invasion of Ukraine.

Current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has remained pro-EU and pro-NATO, two issued which Putin has remained vehemently opposed to.

Yanukovych will also be prefered as he was a democratically elected leader in Ukraine.

Will Russia oust Volodymyr Zelensky from office?

Experts believe that Russia’s plan with Ukraine is to oust President Zelensky and replace him with a pro-Russian leader to effectively make Ukraine an at arm-lengths nation.

The current Russian assault on Ukraine indicates that troops are moving in on captial city Kyiv and its parlimentary buildings in an attempt to overthrow the government.

President Putin also spoke directly to the Ukrainian troops, telling them to “take power into your own hands” and overthrow President Zelelnsky.

President Zelensky told the nation that he believed he was a target, saying: “According to the information we have, the enemy has marked me as target No. 1, my family as target No. 2.

“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”

Ukraine claimed on 2 March that an assassination attempt by elite Chechen special forces on President Zelensky was foiled.

He previously refused an offer from the US to get him out of the country, instead insisting on staying on the ground in Ukraine to fight the Russian troops.

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