10:48 Nov. 26, 2016
Cuba's revolutionary died aged 90. Here's a story about his relations with the post-Soviet Ukraine
The Cuban revolutionary leader and long-ruling strongman Fidel Castro died on Friday, November 25 at the age of 90, his younger brother Raul announced on state television.
‘The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29', Raul Castro told the nation.
Castro's health had been poor for last ten years, he suffered from an intestinal ailment in 2006, which forced him to formally cede power to his brother two years later.
Castro goes down in history as a controversial leader. Having risen to power in a 1959 revolution, he ruled Cuba for nearly 50 years, where he installed a one-party system and ruthlessly cracked down on his opponents. At the same time, many praise him for making schools and hospitals available to the poor.
Castro was considered an enemy of the US, with CIA making more than 600 unsuccessful attempts on his life. Siding with the Soviet Union, Castro was a central figure in the nuclear tensions between Moscow and Washington, known nowadays as the Caribbean Crisis, or the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Castro's Cuba was among the first countries in the Latin America to recognize the independency of Ukraine after the Soviet Union fell apart. The two states entered the stage of diplomatic relations after signing the document in March 12, 1992.
In 1990, Havana was among the first to introduce help to the people, mostly children, impacted by the Chornobyl nuclear catastrophe. Since then, more than 20,000 kids from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have been treated in medical camps outside Havana, according to Cuban media agencies.
Some of these kids were visited by Fidel Castro and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma during the meeting between the two leaders in Cuba in 2000. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry website says it was the first contact at the highest political level between Havana and Kyiv.
Eleven years later, in 2011, it was Viktor Yanukovych's turn to pay a visit to Cuba, where he talked to both brothers – Raul and Fidel. The leaders signed 6 bilateral documents of cooperation, and held a business forum with 180 participants.
Years later, after the events of the Maidan Revolution and the catastrophe of the Flight MH17, Castro lashed out at the ‘warmonger' government of Petro Poroshenko.
‘Cuba... cannot go without expressing its repudiation over the action of such an anti-Russian, anti-Ukrainian and pro-imperialist government', the retired leader wrote in an article, published on official Cuban media on July 18, 2014.
Despite that, two years later Petro Poroshenko congratulated Castro on his 90th birthday, thanking him for his ‘personal input into the friendly relations between the two countries', as well as the unique program for helping the Chornobyl kids.
Fidel Castro's body to be cremated, in accordance with the wish of the revolutionary.