In October 1992 L. Kuchma became Prime Minister, one of the “new men” and President of the Republic was Kravciuk.
According to Abbreviationfinder, the reform program, however, encountered many obstacles also due to the controversies that arose with the government of the former Soviet Union over the division of territories, the fleet and strategic weapons. A certain disorder arose in politics and public life.
In June 1993 the Donbass miners started large strikes and the country experienced inflation and unemployment. Kuchman resigned; in March and June 1994 there were political and presidential elections and premier became deputy J. Zuiahilski.
The negotiations to solve all the problems related to the division were long and laborious and in the end Ukraine was not satisfied with it, while the economic situation had gradually deteriorated. And also the industries found themselves in serious difficulties since Russia now demanded ever higher prices for raw materials. So the government was forced to apply austerity measures that affected several sectors: from energy cuts to heating and lighting, we switched to changing the currency, with loss, from the delivery by the food industries of 40% of production storage. All this provoked a great discontent in the population.
But still a diatribe had arisen about Crimea. This expressed itself for its total independence from Ukraine and in fact on January 30, 1994 it had officially appointed president of the republic J. Meskov. Ukraine immediately responded with a clean cut in the supply of natural gas which gave Crimea the greatest amount of electricity. With this climate we went to the presidential and parliamentary elections. The presidential elections ended on July 10, 1994 with the appointment of Kuchman and the restoration of the program of reforms, of rapprochement with Russia and of seeking agreements with the United States. Those parliamentarians were more laborious, but ultimately ended with the assignment of the majority of seats to the left and Prime Minister was elected on June 15, 1994 V. Massol.
Meanwhile in Crimea Meskov had dissolved the Parliamentary Assembly assuming full powers. Then he called a referendum for April 1995 for a new constitution. At this point Ukraine reacted and negotiated with Russia the new arrangement of the country, dismissed Meskov in March 1995, canceled the work for the new Constitution and eliminated any basis for building the autonomy of the peninsula, which therefore remained within the framework of the Republic of Ukraine.
In May 1996 Fr. Lazarenko was called to lead the government. In June 1996 he approved a new Constitution, similar to the one launched in Russia by Yeltsin, and with this, the President’s powers significantly increased compared to those of Parliament, it was possible to achieve, at least in part, a certain political stability. However, in July Lazarenko was accused of corruption and dismissed, immediately replaced by V. Pustovojtenko.
Meanwhile, Parliament, complaining about the President’s excessive weakness towards Moscow, was attempting to defenestrate the President, also accused of covering up serious episodes of corruption. And with this state of affairs came the policies of March 1998 which recorded a significant drop in voters and the victory of the Communist Party. This then allied with some centrist groupings and the Parliament was again constituted, always with the power in the hands of Kuchman, who however had against a fiercer opposition.
Meanwhile, in Crimea, with a new Constitution, special agreements of local autonomy had been granted, so that many tensions gradually subsided.
But some problems returned to appear when, many years later, many families began to return at the time expelled from the peninsula, on the orders of Stalin. The people who returned were about 250,000 and a good part of them not only found themselves in rather critical economic conditions, but also deprived of any civil rights as they lacked Ukrainian citizenship.
In foreign policy, Ukraine was still involved with both political and social issues with Moscow, but, helped by the West and leveraging on the country’s particular strategic position and its nuclear capacity, it managed to agree with Russia and the division of the ex-Soviet fleet and on the sovereignty of Sevastopol, recognized Ukrainian in all respects, although it still housed a Russian naval base. Furthermore, in February 1998, the two countries signed an agreement, until 2007, for extensive trade and mutual security action.
Despite this, Ukraine never adhered to economic and social integration, sponsored by both Yeltsin and all Slavic forces. And, faithful to his principles of neutrality, declared at the time of his independence, he never asked to join NATO, reserving the right to do so if necessary.
In March 1998, an agreement was signed with the United States for the peaceful use of atomic energy, and the United States was then helped to obtain a strong loan from the International Monetary Fund that would allow it to exit the economic “impasse” in which he also had to struggle during 1999.
In domestic politics, Kuchman continued, always aiming for the normalization of relations with Russia, for a complete “derussification” of the country, imposing the only Ukrainian language, legally recognized, also in consideration of the small presence of Russian minorities in the territory.
Then there were other scandals that made it necessary to replace some members of the government, while former Prime Minister Lazarenko was placed under house arrest while he was in California.
In November 1999 Kuchman won, in the second round, the presidential elections with 57% of the votes and also had a further political victory in the referendum of April 2000, which proposed the reduction of the powers of the RADA.