By virtue of a December 10 presidential decree, Leonid Kuchma has dismissed the head of the presidential administration, Dmytro Tabachnyk, and also stripped him of the military ranks he had acquired in 1994 and 1995. In a related move, Kuchma demoted Lt. Gen. Hryhory Dyachuk, head of the armed forces’ main personnel directorate. The announcement on Tabachnyk’s removal said only that the action had been taken "in connection with his transfer to another job" — a formula often used to indicate political disgrace. There was no immediate announcement of a replacement for Tabachnyk. (Interfax-Ukraine, December 11)
Reported to be 33 years of age and in his post since 1994, Tabachnyk was considered the most influential Ukrainian official after the president himself and a real power behind the throne. His rise followed his masterful organization of Kuchma’s 1994 election campaign, and he continued to function afterward as presidential speech-writer, image-polisher, and political handler. But Tabachnyk’s unique position of influence and his control over access to the president eventually earned him more enemies than friends, and he increasingly came under attack in the press and parliament, with whose chairman, Oleksandr Moroz, he also clashed. The legislature’s commission against crime and corruption spearheaded the drive against Tabachnyk with charges that he had unlawfully acquired both a second apartment in Kiev and a high military rank. Tabachnyk is a civilian who made a name for himself as a writer on Ukrainian military history, and is believed to be the country’s youngest Colonel. Kuchma stuck by Tabachnyk until the younger man turned into a political liability. Tabachnyk’s departure leaves Security and Defense Council secretary Volodymyr Horbulin as the most influential man in the president’s entourage. Tabachnyk and Horbulin were not known to have been rivals.
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