Ukraine's politics are dominated by oligarchs. Its streets are more and more run by the far right. When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, its former republics’ economies went into free fall. Ukraine — the most populous of the new states, after Russia — was no exception: average incomes and life expectancy declined as violent crime soared. It had been a center of heavy industry in the Soviet Union, but during the 1990s its industrial facilities were sold off at bargain prices to figures linked to its political leadership. From 1994 that leadership was dominated by President Leonid Kuchma, a former factory manager who attempted but ultimately failed to keep both Russia and the West on its side.



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