Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced that in May she will run for president. Tymoshenko had been in jail until the last change of government. “I intend to run for President,” said the 53-year-old, who has been prime minister twice. Candidates for president will also be the former boxer Vitali Klitschko and tycoon Petro Poroshenko, who is one of the richest Ukrainians.
Tymoshenko has already run for the presidential position in 2010, but it was a very close battle, in which Viktor Yanukovych won. When he became president he initiated an offensive against her, leading to her conviction. She was accused of illegally ordering the state company Naftogaz to sign a contract for the supply of natural gas with Russia. Because of this, Ukraine was allegedly aggrieved for $190 million. In October 2011, the court in Kiev found her guilty and she was imprisoned. She was sentenced to seven years in prison, of which she has served two years. In prison, her medical condition deteriorated and she asked to be transferred to a hospital and medical treatment abroad. Her request was denied and this led to protests from her supporters.
Tymoshenko was released from prison on Feb. 22, after the Ukrainian Parliament voted to allow her release. At that time, the Ukrainian Parliament also removed President Viktor Yanukovych and announced early presidential elections. After the decision of the Parliament, Tymoshenko left the prison hospital in Kharkiv, where she spent most of her time since the conviction in 2011. On the Independence Square in Kiev, Tymoshenko said to the crowd that they must continue the protests and changing Ukraine. She said that the protesters are heroes and that no one will be deceived. During her speech she then announced that she will soon return to work.
Currently, the chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko has the most support. He would get about 25 percent of the votes. Boxing champ Vitali Klitschko is following him with nine percent support. Poroshenko, the owner of the confectionery giant Roshen and former Minister of Economy, has helped funding the recent pro-European protests. Because of these protests pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych lost power.
A few days ago the Russian site RT.com published a recording of a conversation between Tymoshenko and former Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense of Ukraine Nestor Shufrych. The conversation was recorded on March 18, a few hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement on the annexation of Crimea to Russia. Tymoshenko has already confirmed the authenticity of the recording. In the recorded conversation she says that she would take her weapons and fire on Vladimir Putin. During one part of the recording she calls for the slaughter of eight million Russians and the use of nuclear weapons. Tymoshenko said that this part of the recording is counterfeit.
Yulia Tymoshenko was involved in 2004 pro- democratic Orange Revolution, which then toppled Yanukovych’s first administration. She is considered the most charismatic and outspoken leader of the Orange Revolution. Elections will be on May 25 and this is the second time that Tymoshenko will run for president.
By Janette Verdnik