The outgoing president was part of the old Communist Party elite before 1991.
He went on to become prime minister of the Ukraine in 1992 and president in 1994. He has been accused of involvement in the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze. He supported Yanukovich in the recent presidential race.
The prime minister of the Ukraine since 2002, he was initially declared winner of last week’s election.
His political base is in the Russian-dominated east of the country, especially the key industrial city of Donbas, and he is seen as the pro-Moscow candidate for the presidency.
He is closely linked to the powerful “Donets’ky clan”, which includes Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest oligarch.
He is widely believed to be involved in corruption and organised crime.
Another former prime minister, also under Kuchma. He challenged Yanukovich for the presidency in the recent election. He was a high ranking banker under the old Stalinist system.
His support came from the Ukrainian-speaking west of the country. He is seen as the pro-Washington and pro-EU candidate.
He is a former head of the Ukrainian state bank, where he survived a corruption scandal.
His key ally is deputy prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko—a billionaire who managed to accumulate her fortune rapidly through shady deals in the energy industry. In 2001 she spent a month in prison on corruption charges.
Yushchenko and his allies have also defended papers that have published anti-Semitic articles.