Yuriy Lutsenko’s path towards becoming Ukraine’s Prosecutor General was challenging. Lawmakers had to pass a special law to make it possible. He is the third person post- EuroMaidan to hold the position. The first two, Vitaly Yarema and Viktor Shokin left embroiled in scandal and mass criticism.
Lutsenko was previously the leader of Petro Poroshenko’s faction in parliament, a former chief police officer, an active participant of two revolutions, a socialist, a person involved in a series of scandals and a prisoner. We have highlighted the most striking points of his career.
An engineer from Rivne
Yuriy Lutsenko was born in 1964 in Rivne, western Ukraine. He studied at Lviv Polytechnic Institute, at the Faculty of Electronic Engineering. Lutsenko served in the Army between 1984-1986 and graduated as an ‘Engineer of Electronic Technology’ in 1989.
After graduation, he returned to his native city. There, he began work at a local factory called ‘Gazotron’ where he served as ‘Head of the Technical Bureau’ before being promoted to the chief designer (until 1994).
While working, Yuriy Lutsenko started to get involved in politics (thanks to his father). In 1994, he held the position of chairperson at the Rivne Regional Council of People's Deputies. From 1996, he was the head of the Economy Committee at Rivne's regional administration.
His father’s links allowed the then 32-year old Lutsenko to become a secretary of the political council of the Socialist Party of Ukraine in 1996. Following that appointment, he began to participate in the political fight against the regime of former president Leonid Kuchma. By 1999, Lutsenko had gained a strong position in the Socialist Party. He became an assistant consultant of the Party leader Oleksandr Moroz. From that moment, his political career started to grow.
In late 2000, the fragmented Ukrainian opposition joined in the campaign ‘Ukraine without Kuchma!’. Lutsenko became renowned for his active work ‘in the field’, attending rallies and even taking part in clashes with police.
In 2002, the prominent revolutionary became a Ukrainian MP within the Socialist Party faction.
One day, during his tenure as MP, Yuriy Lutsenko gave a symbol of prison incarceration (straw sandals) to Leonid Kuchma. Around a decade later, in 2013, Kuchma and Lutsenko would meet at the YES Yalta conference.
From the street to the Interior Ministry
During the 2014 Orange Revolution, Lutsenko together with Socialist Party leader Moroz backed presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. Lutsenko organized civil disobedience in Kyiv and was seen on the Maidan stage surrounded by Yushchenko’s best friends. After the change of power, SPU received unprecedented privileges, playing between Yushchenko and Yuliya Tymoshenko.
Lutsenko became the first leader in Ukraine’s history to head law enforcement and defense agencies during the tenure of three prime ministers. He said Interior Ministry personnel would be “cleaned and reviewed.” He also introduced standards for physical fitness of the supreme command staff at the Interior Ministry.
Later, Lutsenko criticized the probe into the poisoning of Yushchenko. He claimed there were inefficiency and direct sabotage in the investigation of resonant crimes, overseen by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.
In 2006, during the parliamentary election campaign Lutsenko initiated the reopening of the case of Yanukovych's convictions. However, fate played a cruel joke with Lutsenko in the second half of the year; he worked under the direction of ... Yanukovych.
In July 2006, Lutsenko left the Socialist Party ranks after party leader Moroz decided to join in coalition with the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the Communist Party. Two weeks later, Parliament approved the new government headed by Viktor Yanukovych. Lutsenko stayed in the same position - as the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. On December 1, 2006, Lutsenko was fired.
On November 2, 2006, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) established a temporary commission to look into and verify corruption and abuse claims in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
On February 23, 2007, the then Internal Affairs Minister Vasyl Tsushko accused Lutsenko of misusing budgetary funds (500 million hryvnias) during his tenure as minister. In March the Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case, accusing Lutsenko in malpractice. Lutsenko was accused of illegal issuance of 51 firearms.
Back in Business
In 2007, Lutsenko actively developed his new political project. (Months before) the ex-minister had created the civil movement ‘People's Self-Defense’. Its main goal was the dissolution of parliament and the resignation of the government. In spring 2007, Lutsenko was planning to organize a large-scale protest - "March of Justice" to Kyiv. His allies were the pro-presidential People's Union "Our Ukraine" and ‘Tymoshenko’s Bloc’. (In December 2007), Yushchenko dissolved the Verkhovna Rada, the ‘democrats’ won in early elections, and Lutsenko returned to the post of Minister of the Internal Affairs under Tymoshenko.
In May 2009, Lutsenko became embroiled in another scandal. It was reported that he was detained by police at Frankfurt Airport after getting into a fight and trying to board a plane drunk.
In the same month, Lutsenko resigned from his post as Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. He was removed from office at the time of the official investigation. However, a few days later Lutsenko again took up his duties. The Cabinet found no evidence supporting the minister’s misconduct.
After Viktor Yanukovych’s won the presidential elections and the coalition was reformatted, any future for Lutsenko’s in the Ministry of Internal Affairs was questionable. He was fired. However, there was a nasty surprise waiting for the ex-minister.
On November 9, 2010, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine opened a criminal case against the ex-Minister of Internal Affairs and placed him under house arrest. Lutsenko was suspected of misappropriation of state property in a large scale by malpractice on preliminary arrangement by group of persons, as well as abuse of power.
In December 2010, Lutsenko was detained by the Security Service of Ukraine on suspicion of delaying the review of the case file, failing to appear for questioning, as well as preparing to escape abroad. The next day, the Court in Kyiv sentenced him to two months detention. Later, the Court of Appeal extended arrest up to 5 months. After this decision, Lutsenko announced a hunger strike.
February 27, 2012, Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court handed down a 4-year prison sentence to Lutsenko, with confiscation of all personal property. Later on July 3, 2012, the European Court of Human Rights declared the arrest of Lutsenko illegal and also stated that his arrest was politically motivated.
Lutsenko spent time in Mena colony until April of 2013. Under pressure from the West, and against the background of the preparation of the EU-Ukraine Agreement Association, Yanukovych pardoned the ex-minister.
Lutsenko came out of prison in the fall of 2013, when the second revolution broke out. He became an active participant. In prison, he read a lot; then he was released with the image of an intellectual. On Maidan, Lutsenko tried to position himself as a civil society activist, not a politician. In January 2014, Berkut riot police beat Lutsenko
After his release, Lutsenko founded the "Third Ukrainian Republic" movement. However, in the midst of the presidential campaign of 2014, he actively campaigned for Poroshenko.
As a result, Poroshenko won the election, became President and Lutsenko instructed to prepare a new party for the parliamentary elections. In the fall of 2014, Bloc of Petro Poroshenko headed by Yuri Lutsenko formed the largest faction in parliament, around which they build a new coalition. Lutsenko headed this parliamentary faction.
Best man of Poroshenko and Stets
Yuriy Lutsenko is the best man of President Petro Poroshenko and Information Minister Yuri Stets. Stets previously claimed he waited for a year and a half for Lutsenko to come out of prison so that he could witness the baptism of his youngest daughter.
Lutsenko now is one of the closest associates of the President. This is evidenced by the fact that Poroshenko appointed Lutsenko to the post of Attorney General.