President: Viktor Yanukovych
Mr Yanukovych was declared the winner of the second round of voting in the 2010 presidential election, with a 3.48% lead over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
His inauguration as president marked the climax of Viktor Yanukovych's political comeback. First, he overcame the disgrace of the 2004/05 presidential defeat and retained the leadership of the Party of the Regions, leading it back into power as prime minister in 2006-2007.
He narrowly lost the 2007 parliamentary elections, but benefited from discord between President Yushchenko and Mrs Tymoshenko and went on to capitalise on discontent over the government's failure to cope with the global economic crisis after 2008.
Born into a poor family in Donetsk Region, eastern Ukraine's industrial powerhouse, in 1950, Mr Yanukovych had a troubled childhood and was twice jailed for violent crimes in his youth. On release he went to work in the local transport industry, where he rose through the ranks of management under the patronage of cosmonaut and local Soviet MP Georgi Beregovoi.
He established a political power base in the Donetsk Region administration, becoming governor in 1997 and later head of the council. There he built close ties to local tycoon Rinat Akhmetov.
President Kuchma appointed him prime minister in 2002, and nominated him as presidential candidate for the governing coalition of political and business interests in 2004.
Mr Yanukovych has worked hard to distance himself from the scandals of the pre-2004 period and from accusations of being Russia's placeman. He says that his aim is to balance relations between Russia and the European Union, with EU integration as a "strategic aim".
His first two years in office saw extensive concessions to Russia, such as extending the Russian lease on the Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea and moves to restrict media freedom. However, he drew the line at taking Ukraine into a customs union with Russia.
His government has regularly earned criticism from the United States, European Union and international rights groups over the imprisonment of Mrs Tymoshenko and other opposition politicians and the alleged rigging of the 2012 parliamentary elections.
Progress towards reaching an association agreement with the EU - seen as a key step towards eventual EU membership - raised the hackles of Russia, which retaliated by banning the import of certain Ukrainian products. The government's decision to abandon the association agreement in November 2013 brought tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets of Kiev, accusing the president of bowing to Russian pressure.
Prime minister: Mykola Azarov
Mykola Azarov, an ethnic Russian born in Russia, is a close associate of President Yanukovych and succeeded him as head of the Party of Regions in 2010. After the government of Mr Yanukovych's chief rival, Yuliya Tymoshenko, fell in a vote of confidence in March 2010, Mr Azarov formed a coalition with the Communists and the centrist Lytvyn Bloc.
Mr Azarov was head of the tax administration in 1996-2002, and his term as finance minister during Mr Yanukovych's subsequent premiership oversaw dramatic economic growth.
He was briefly acting prime minister during the presidential election crisis of 2004-2005, and resumed the post of finance minister during the Yanukovych government of 2006-2007.
A mining specialist, Mr Azarov is a technocrat with neither a political base nor ambitions of his own. His poor command of Ukrainian is often highlighted by his opponents, who see him as a symbol of Mr Yanukovych's alleged pro-Russian orientation.
Ukraine's economy has stagnated under the premiership of Mr Azarov. He has refused to cut expensive gas subsidies, which the IMF says are a block on any further loans. Negotiations with Russia on the price of gas have made little progress, and plans to forge closer ties with the European Union foundered in November 2013 when, after much prevarication, the government decided against signing a free-trade agreement.