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Leonid Kravchuk, first president of independent Ukraine, dead at 88

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

, a key figure in ushering in the largely peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union three decades ago and the first president of independent , has died. He was 88.

Kravchuk, who was president of Ukraine from 1991-94, died after a long illness, according to Ukrainian media. He had been placed in an intensive care unit after suffering complications following heart surgery in June 2021.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described Kravchuk as a wise leader who guided the country in the chaotic first years of independence from Soviet rule.

“He was a person always able to find wise words and express them in such a way that they were heard by all Ukrainians,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. “Particularly in times of crisis. When the future of an entire country can depend on

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