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Europe

Ukraine’s ex-PM Tymoshenko to run for president

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-27

Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was recently released from prison, announced on Thursday her intention to run in the country’s presidential elections in May.

Ukraine's controversial former prime minister and opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, announced plans Thursday to run in early presidential polls set for May 25 following last month's ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich.

"I intend to run for president of Ukraine," she told reporters in a press room.

Tymoshenko – one of the most charismatic and outspoken leaders of Ukraine's 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution – lost a close presidential race to Yanukovych in 2010 after heading two pro-Western cabinets that became embroiled in infighting and eventually lost popular support.

Her political downfall after the 2010 vote was rapid and seemingly permanent.

Yanukovich's government quickly launched a series of criminal probes against his political rival, which culminated in Tymoshenko facing trial for her role in agreeing to a 2009 gas contract with Russia that many Ukrainians thought came at too high a cost.

Tymoshenko was convicted in October 2011 for abuse of power and sentenced to a seven-year jail term that Western nations denounced as the use of selective justice.

She emerged triumphantly on February 22 from the state hospital in which she had spent most of her sentence, the very day parliament voted to oust Yanukovich for his role in the deaths of nearly 100 protesters in Kiev earlier that month.

Tymoshenko immediately went to Maidan (Independence) Square, which served as the headquarters of the protest movement in the heart of Kiev.

Controversial candidate

Yet the crowd's reception of the one-time opposition icon was guarded – a sign of their growing weariness of the corruption allegations that have stained Tymoshenko's reputation in recent years.

Some analysts believe that the pro-Western movement that Tymoshenko once headed is now looking to a new generation of leaders who played a more prominent role in the latest protests and who now hold key positions in the new interim government.

Tymoshenko on Thursday attempted to paint herself as a compromise figure who could look after the interests of her old supporters as well as the Russian speakers who look toward the Kremlin for assistance and predominantly live in the southwest of Ukraine.

"I will be able to find a common language with everyone who lives in the east," she said.

Tymoshenko also vowed to commit herself to breaking the close links between big business and government that have led to the enrichment of select tycoons through shadowy deals that have also paid off big for political insiders.

"I stand out from all the other presidential candidates because I will actually be able to do this: I will be able to break up these huge clan-like corporations,” she said.

"None of the other politicians that intend to run for president understand the depth of the lawlessness gripping Ukraine," she added.

An opinion poll published jointly on Wednesday by four respected Ukrainian political research firms showed Tymoshenko in third place with the support of 8.2 percent of prospective voters, while former boxing champion turned opposition leader Vitali Klitschko was second with 8.9 percent of the vote.

Chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko ranked first in popularity with the backing of 24.8 percent of respondents.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

Date created : 2014-03-27

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