Yatsenyuk's first government post was as Minister of Economy from 2005 to 2006; subsequently he was Foreign Minister of Ukraine in 2007 and Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) from 2007 to 2008. Yatsenyuk was one of the leaders of Ukraine's second biggest party All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland", and former leader of its parliamentary faction. He became the Prime Minister of Ukraine following the 2014 revolution that removed Viktor Yanukovych from power. In September 2014 Yatsenyuk started the new party People's Front. On 16 February 2016, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, asked Yatsenyuk to resign saying he had lost the support of the coalition and the same day, the Ukrainian parliament voted the cabinet's work unsatisfactory but rejected a call for a vote of no confidence. On 10 April 2016, Yatsenyuk announced that he would report to parliament on 12 April and resign as Prime Minister. On 14 April 2016, Yatsenyuk was replaced by new Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
Yatsenyuk was born on May 22, 1974, in the Ukrainian SSR's Chernivtsi. His father, historian Petro Ivanovich Yatsenuk, was a professor at the Faculty of History at Chernivtsi National University and has since become deputy dean of its history faculty. Arseny's mother, Maria Grigoriievna Yatsenyuk (née Bakaj), has long been a French teacher at area high schools and now teaches in the French Department of Foreign Languages at Chernivtsi University. Yatsenyuk speaks Russian and English as well as having some knowledge of Romanian.
According to Yatsenyuk, he comes from a family of ethnic Ukrainians, and is a member of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He is of partly Romanian ancestry; one of his ancestors was a citizen of Romania from the region around Chernivtsi. Some sources state he was born to a family of ethnic Romanian-Jewish-Ukrainians. However, Yaakov Bleich, a chief rabbi of Ukraine stated, "Arseniy Yatsenyuk is not Jewish." Furthermore, Anna Rudnitskaya said, "[Yatsenyuk's] hypothetical Jewishness was never established."
After Yatsenyuk began studying at Chernivtsi University in 1992, he set up a student law firm. Yatsenyuk graduated from the university in 1996, and later attended the Chernivtsi Trade-Economics Institute of the Kyiv National Trade-Economics Institute in 2001. In addition to holding a law degree and a master's degree in accounting and auditing, Yatsenyuk also earned a Ph.D. in economics from the Ukrainian Academy of Banking of the National Bank of Ukraine.
From December 1992 to September 1997 Yatsenyuk was the president of Yurek Ltd., a law firm based in Chernivtsi. From January 1998 until September 2001, Yatsenyuk worked in the Aval bank, based in Kiev. From November 2003 to February 2005, Yatsenyuk served as the first vice-president of the National Bank of Ukraine under Serhiy Tihipko. After Tihipko left the National Bank, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was put in charge of it.
From September until November 2001, Yatsenyuk served as an acting Minister of Economy of Crimea, and from November of the same year until January 2003, served as the official Minister of Economy of Crimea.
After Vasyl Tsushko was appointed as the new Governor of Odessa Oblast, Tsushko asked Yatsenyuk to serve as his vice-governor, which he served from March 9 to September 2005. From September 27, 2005 to August 4, 2006, he served as the Minister of Economy of Ukraine in the Yekhanurov Government. Arseniy Yatsenyuk then headed talks about Ukrainian membership in the World Trade Organization. Yatsenyuk also heads the Ukraine-European Union commission.
From September 20, 2006, he served as the first vice-president of the Head of Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, and the representative of the president in the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
Yatsenyuk was proposed for the post of Foreign Minister by the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko. Yatsenyuk was chosen for the post by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on March 21, 2007 with 426 votes (from 450 maximum), but only after the Ukrainian parliament twice denied the post to Volodymyr Ohryzko.
In the early parliamentary elections held on September 30, 2007, Yatsenyuk was elected to the parliament from Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc (number 3 in the bloc's member list). On December 3, 2007, he was nominated for the position of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada from the democratic coalition formed from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc. On December 4, 2007, Yatsenyuk was elected the Chairman of the Parliament. His candidacy was the only in the ballot, and he obtained 227 votes in favor (from the democratic coalition; opposition abstained from the voting).
During the Ukrainian political crises of September 2008 Yatsenyuk offered his resignation on September 17, 2008. A vote on his dismissal on November 11, 2008, was declared invalid by the counting commission of the Parliament (the vote was proposed by opposition party Party of Regions).
On November 12, a total of 233 of 226 required deputies satisfied the resignation statement of Yatsenyuk and thus dismissed him from his post of Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada. The voting was carried out through the parliaments voting system and not by means of secret ballots, as stipulated by the parliamentary regulations. After his dismissal Yatsenyuk told journalists that he will form a new political force "for change in the country."
On November 21, 2008, Yatsenyuk was also dismissed by President Viktor Yushchenko from the National Security and Defense Council.
On December 16, 2008, Yatsenyuk announced plans to create a political party on basis of the Front of Changes public initiative. In an interview with Den of February 4, 2009 he claimed to have no allies among the contemporary politicians. He has often been referred to as a political clone lacking differentiating policies of Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko. According to polls held in the last months of 2008 suggested a political party led by Yatsenyuk would pass the 3 percent election threshold in a Ukrainian parliamentary election.
On April 5, 2009, Yatsenyuk announced his candidacy for President of Ukraine in the next presidential election. During the election campaign fellow candidate Serhiy Ratushniak repeatedly insulted Yatsenyuk because of his alleged Jewish roots, among others Ratushniak called Yatsenyuk an "impudent little Jew" who was "successfully serving the thieves who are in power in Ukraine and is using criminal money to plough ahead towards Ukraine's presidency".
Yatsenyuk's presidential campaign was estimated to cost about $60–$70 million. When Yatsenyuk billboards first appeared around Ukraine at the end of June 2009, Yatseniuk was depicted as a military-style leader, while his previous image was that of a "young liberal". Some analysts think that this did not help the campaign. On January 13, 2010 Yatseniuk stated that his election campaign had cost 80 million Hryvnia and that "The number of my advertising posters is ten times less than that of all of my political opponents"; Yatseniuk claimed that funds from his election budget were mainly spent on his appearances on television.
After the elections, Yatsenyuk wanted to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada because in his view the parliament would prevent him from working. He also stated in November 2009 that Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Party of Regions were "almost a single whole".
In late November 2009, he stated he was not interested in "using his votes as bargaining material" for a high political post.
On February 21, 2010, President Yanukovych offered three candidates for Prime Minister of Ukraine: Serhiy Tihipko, Yatsenyuk and Party of Regions lawmaker Mykola Azarov. But Yatsenyuk declined this proposal to hold a high post in the new cabinet after the Ukrainian parliament adopted an amendment on March 9, 2010 which enabled independent lawmakers to take part in forming a majority coalition, instead of only parliamentary factions; Yatsenyuk disapproved of this amendment. Instead he called for early parliamentary elections: "Unconstitutional attempts by parliamentarians to form a coalition and a government would deepen the political crisis and the crisis of statehood as such". To be premier in a coalition with communists was unacceptable for Yatsenyuk. Yatsenyuk formed an oppositional government in March 2010, next to another oppositional government headed by Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko, opposing the Azarov Government. In April 2010 Yatsenyuk was officially chosen as party leader of Front for Change; by that time the public initiative had become a political party also.
During the October 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election Yatsenyuk competed on a party list based on the party All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland". Yatseniuk stressed in April 2012 "Front of Changes existed and will exist" but also hinted the same month the alliance could lay basis for one single party.
The party competed on one single party under "umbrella" party "Fatherland", together with several other parties, during the October 2012 parliamentary elections. During the election this list won 62 seats (25.55% of the votes) under the proportional party-list system and another 39 by winning 39 simple-majority constituencies; a total of 101 seats in Parliament. Yatsenyuk headed this election list because "Fatherland"-leader Yulia Tymoshenko was imprisoned. Yatsenyuk was elected leader of the parliamentary faction of "Fatherland" on 12 December 2012.
On 15 June 2013 his Front for Change (party) merged into "Fatherland".
On October 27, 2013, a few weeks before first Euromaidan mass protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Yatseniuk contributed to a Trilateral Commission meeting in Krakow, presided over by Jean-Claude Trichet, on the topic "Ukraine and European Union".
On January 25, 2014, Yatsenyuk was offered the post of prime minister by President Viktor Yanukovych but refused due to unmet demands. Yatsenyuk said the people should be making a decision for the future of Ukraine, not the present government officials.
Yatsenyuk was designated as the new Prime Minister of the Yatsenyuk Government following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that removed former President Viktor Yanukovych from power. The new government was sworn in on 27 February 2014. After his appointment, Yatsenyuk started to distance himself and his government from Russia, which at the same time invaded and later annexed Crimea in response to the ouster of Yanukovych. As the Ukrainian head of government, Yatsenyuk was involved in the Crimean crisis. He described his government as being on a "kamikaze" mission. On 21 March 2014, Ukraine signed the political part of the Association Agreement with European Union with the economical part of the treaty to be signed after the presidential election in May 2014. The day before Yatsenyuk was replaced (due to his new position) as his party's faction leader in parliament by Sergei Sobolev.
On 24 July 2014, Yatsenyuk announced that he was resigning from the post of Prime Minister immediately. Earlier that day the coalition supporting his Yatsenyuk Government had collapsed, after parliament failed to pass legislation to increase military financing and regulate energy matters. Yatsenyuk had told parliament "History will not forgive us ... how are we to pay wages, how are we tomorrow morning going to send fuel for armoured vehicles, how will we pay those families who have lost soldiers, to look after the army?" During his announcement of resignation in parliament Yatsenyuk hinted that the coalition had collapsed because politicians did not want to be seen involved in making budget cuts and had thus placed "political interest above the fate of the country"; according to him this was "a moral and an ethical crime". But his resignation had yet to be officially accepted by parliament and they did not do this the day after his resignation. Instead MPs decided that their next meeting will be on 31 July 2014.
On 31 July 2014 the Verkhovna Rada declined his resignation because only 16 (of the 450) MPs voted for his resignation. On 25 July 2014 the Yatsenyuk Government had appointed Deputy Prime Minister for Regional Policy – Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine Volodymyr Hroisman as acting Prime Minister.
On 10 September, Yatsenyuk became founding member the new party People's Front. This was 46 days before the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election. Yatsenyuk was confirmed as prime minister at the first session of the new parliament by 341 votes.
February 2016 saw the start of Yatsenyuk's downfall as the Prime Minister of Ukraine after economy minister Aivaras Abromavičius announced his resignation claiming the government did not have a real commitment to fight corruption. On 16 February 2016, President Petro Poroshenko asked Yatsenyuk to resign and later on the same day, the Ukrainian parliament voted to find the work the Ukrainian cabinet was doing under Yatsenyuk unsatisfactory, but rejected calls for a vote of no confidence. On 17 and 18 February 2016 Fatherland and Self Reliance left the coalition supporting Yatsenyuk's government, meaning the coalition became 5 deputies short of the 226 needed. On 10 April 2016, Yatsenyuk announced that he would report to parliament on 12 April and resign as Prime Minister. But parliament did not hold a vote on his resignation that day because (Yatsenyuk's party) People's Front and Petro Poroshenko Bloc could not agree on the forming of a new government. On 14 April 2016, parliament did hold a vote on his resignation resulting in Yatsenyuk being replaced by the new Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, and his Groysman government.
Yatsenyuk does not want Russian to become the second state language in Ukraine.
Yatsenyuk wants European Union membership for Ukraine. and he sees this "because this means standards and values – a [high] level of education, medical treatment, pensions, employment, freedoms, new technologies, and progress". Yatsenyuk stated late 2009 that in its relations with the European Union, Ukraine should have a visa-free regime with EU countries. Yatsenyuk stated on 20 April 2012 it was clear to him that the European Union will not sign the association agreement "until fully fledged democracy is resumed in Ukraine, free and fair elections are held, and the political persecution of opponents is stopped in Ukraine".
Yatsenyuk is against Ukraine joining the Eurasian Customs Union; according to him "Ukraine's joining the Customs Union means the restoration of the Soviet Union in a slightly different form and with a different name. But this means that the country will become a part of the Russian empire. We know history. We have been there and we don't want to return there". On 21 August 2013 Yatsenyuk stated "Russia has decided for some reason that it can be the architect of a new Berlin wall. And, according to Russia’s design, this wall should appear at the border between Ukraine and the European Union".
Yatsenyuk was against the April 21, 2010 agreement in which the Russian lease on naval facilities in Crimea would be extended beyond 2017 by 25 years with an additional five-year renewal option (to 2042–47) in exchange for a multiyear discounted contract to provide Ukraine with Russian natural gas. Yatsenyuk favours the creation of a special "vice prime minister for Crimean issues".
In November 2009, Yatsenyuk stated that Ukraine's shadow economy "is a part of the current political system in Ukraine and that's why taking business out of the shadows will only be possible via a change in this system". In November 2009 he saw as his most difficult task if elected President "to break the political clan system that has been built up over the last 18 years". Yatsenyuk wants to create a common energy company with European Union countries and Russia.
According to Yatsenyuk, it will be impossible to fight corruption without changing the country's system of government, "The system of government in Ukraine has in fact remained the same as it was under the Soviet Union".
In late July 2010, Yatsenyuk wrote a draft law which proposed to fine officials for violating the law "On Appeals by Citizens", thus holding officials personally accountable for ignoring the complaints of citizens.
In November 2009, he proposed that a referendum be held on if Ukraine should have an open list voting system. Yatsenyuk is in favour of holding referenda; he calls this "nationalization of state power". The amendment of the terms and conditions of the Russian Black Sea Fleet's presence in Ukraine and a decision on Ukraine's membership of NATO and other military alliances are according to Yatsenyuk only possible through a referendum.
Yatsenyuk had stated that convicted politicians Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko should be released and he had proposed/written laws to make this happen. He also believed their convictions were a "difficult obstacle on Ukraine's path to the European Union." In early December 2012, he stated that he was ready to open a dialogue with the authorities only after Tymoshenko and Lutsenko were released.
Yatsenyuk's wife is Tereza Viktorivna (b. 1970); they have two daughters named Khrystyna and Sofiya.
Tereza Yatsenyuk was born into a family of philosophers. Her father, Viktor Illarionovych Gur, is a professor of philosophy at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute; her mother Svitlana Mykytivna, PhD, is now retired.
Yatsenyuk's family has lived near Kiev (the village of Novi Petrivtsi, Vyshhorod Raion) since 2003, where he owns a two-storied house with an outdoor swimming pool, near the country house belonging to Viktor Yanukovych.
Yatsenyuk also has a sister Alina Petrovna Jones (according to other sources – Steel, born 1967), residing in the city of Santa Barbara, California United States.
Arseniy Yatsenuk heads the Open Ukraine Foundation, an international foundation based in Ukraine. It was established in July 2007 for the "strengthening and development of Ukraine's reputation in the world." Open Ukraine works with the young generation of artists, scholars and community leaders who seek to implement social changes in the different regions.
Open Ukraine is partnered with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United States Department of State and Chatham House, among other organizations.
On 28 April 2017, The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed that Russia’s National Bureau of Interpol had requested that Yatsenyuk be put on the international wanted list relating to his alleged involvement in attacks on Russian servicemen in 1994-1995, and in 2000 Russia’s North Caucasian republic of Chechnya, that a Yessentuki city court had previously (on 21 February 2017) issued an in-absentia international warrant for his arrest alleging his violation of three articles of the Criminal Code of Russia; namely that he participated in an armed group, including intentional murder.
Yatsenyuk has stated his awareness of these charges he calls a "total absurdity", with Ukrainian government's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov admitting (on 29 April 2017) that Interpol sent him a copy of the Russian request (he claimed was "politically motivated") and Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko stating that he believes Interpol will dismiss Russia's request. Cavalier of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise Fifth Class – awarded on 7 February 2008 for significant personal contribution to the integration of Ukraine into the World Trade Organization
Medal "For the Glory of Chernivtsi" (2008)