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Profile: Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov

Yekhanurov (left) is seen as Yushchenko's right-hand man (AFP) Yuriy Yekhanurov, who heads Our Ukraine's party list for the March 26 parliamentary elections, currently serves as prime minister.

An ethnic Buryat, Yekhanurov was born in a village in Sakha (Yakutia) in 1948. His family moved to Ukraine in 1963. In Kyiv, Yekhanurov graduated from a construction school in 1967 and from the Institute of People's Economy in 1973.

He climbed the career ladder in the construction industry and was eventually named to the post of deputy director for economic issues of Kyiv's main construction directorate.
"The way I understand it, when we win -- and I do not doubt that we will -- then under the leadership of President Yushchenko we will continue to carry out the program of the president."

After Ukraine gained independence in 1991, Yekhanurov moved to the Cabinet of Ministers, where he initially served as a departmental director and then was promoted to the post of deputy economy minister. In 1994-97 he oversaw the initial stage of Ukraine's privatization as head of the State Property Fund. Subsequently he served as economy minister and deputy head of the presidential administration. At that time he belonged to the People's Democratic Party, a "party of power" that provided political support to President Leonid Kuchma.

In 1998 Yekhanurov was elected to the Verkhovna Rada from a one-seat constituency in Zhytomyr Oblast. From 1999 to 2001 he worked as first deputy prime minister in a cabinet headed by Viktor Yushchenko. When Yushchenko was dismissed as prime minister in 2001, Kuchma employed Yekhanurov as first deputy head of the presidential administration.

On His Own

In November 2001, Yekhanurov left Kuchma for good and tied his political fate closely to that of Yushchenko. He became deputy chief of the election campaign of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc and was elected to parliament in March 2002 from Our Ukraine's list. In 2004, Yekhanurov became deputy chief of Yushchenko's presidential election campaign. In March 2005, he was elected head of the executive committee of the Our Ukraine People's Union, Yushchenko's "party of power." In April, Yushchenko appointed Yekhanurov governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
"We have experience, we know how to work and how to fight, and we strongly stand on our feet. This means that today it is irrational to let other political force run the government. How will it be in three years? I would not like Ukraine to turn to ruin again."

In September 2005, after dismissing Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, President Yushchenko nominated Yekhanurov as her replacement. The Verkhovna Rada endorsed Yekhanurov for the post of prime minister on September 22.

Right-Hand Man

Yekhanurov is widely perceived in Ukraine as an experienced and efficient administrator without political ambitions, who is perfectly glad with remaining in the president's shadow. He is also one of the very few in Yushchenko's entourage who back Ukraine's membership in the Single Economic Space with Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.

On an official trip to Washington in November 2005, Yekhanurov made a memorable, even if quirky, comment on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Yekhanurov told U.S. reporters that Lukashenka is a "talented propagandist," unexpectedly adding, "Now I understand why women in the 1930s shouted, 'I want a baby from the Fuehrer!'" Minsk subsequently demanded official explanations.