As tensions continue to rise between Ukraine and Russia, here is a look at the people at the center of the conflict.
We will keep updating this slideshow with new images and information as the situation continues.
—By CNBC's Robert Ferris.
Last updated Thursday 17 April 2014.
Yanukovych—the ousted leader of Ukraine—was voted out of office by parliament in February after months of protests. He was originally elected president in 2004, but subsequent "Orange Revolution" protests over the legitimacy of the election kept him out of power until he won the office again in 2010. His recent removal from office was reportedly a blow to Vladimir Putin, who had been counting on Yanukovych to usher Ukraine into Putin's vision for a pan-national organization—the Eurasian Union.
Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk recently told parliament that $38 billion in loans went missing from government coffers during Yanukovych's rule.
The president of the Russian Federation on Thursday asserted his right to use force to aid pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine, and admitted to sending troops to Crimea. The White House has claimed Moscow is supporting separatists and encouraging instability in order to gain political control over the region.
Yulia Tymoshenko was freed from imprisonment after Yanukovych's ouster. She had been a leader of the "Orange Revolution" protests that contested and defeated the election of Yanukovych in 2004. She was prime minister until 2010. When Yanukovych took office that year she was imprisoned, ostensibly for a natural gas deal she made while still in office. Tymoshenko has recently announced she will seek the presidency, though she is not universally popular in her country—some see her as an emblem of a corrupt and elitist political class.
Turchynov is the acting president of Ukraine and the chairman of its parliament. He is a member of one of Ukraine's most powerful political parties, "Fatherland," along with allies Yulia Tymoshenko and interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
He headed Ukraine's state security service (SBU) in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution.
Yatsenyuk is Ukraine's interim prime minister. Originally trained as a lawyer, he also holds master's degrees in accounting and auditing as well as a Ph.D. in economics. He is one of the leaders of the Fatherland party.
Yushchenko was one of the leaders of the Orange Revolution and served as president from 2005 to 2010. He was enormously popular after the Orange Revolution, but frequently butted heads with Orange ally and then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Their relationship was so dysfunctional that some blame them for allowing Yanukovych to return to the presidency in 2010.
A former world heavyweight boxing champion (his younger brother Wladimir is still a world champion) and current member of Ukraine's parliament. He heads the UDAR party and is one of the primary leaders of the Ukrainian opposition. He became active in Ukrainian politics in 2005, while still boxing professionally, and has used his near legendary fighting career as political leverage—when Yanukovych was pushed out of office, Klitschko told reporters "This is a political knockout." Both he and Wladimir were supporters of Yushchenko.
The sole businessman on this list, Akhmetov is a wealthy Ukrainian oligarch who has lately adopted the role of diplomat and peacemaker in the conflict. Born to a working-class Muslim Tatar family, he may be Ukraine's wealthiest and most powerful man. He heads System Capital Management, a holding company for his various businesses, but he has mostly made his money in the steel and mining industries. Akhmetov has lately been trying to ease the tensions between separatists in the eastern region of the country and Ukrainian authorities, though some critics contend he is primarily trying to protect himself and his businesses in a post-Yanukovych Ukraine.