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Ukraine - Presidential Election - 25 May 2014

The National Exit Poll of Ukraine's Presidential Poll put Poroshenko at well over 55 percent of the vote. If confirmed, this would make a runoff unnecessary. Former Prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was reported to have come in second, at 12.9 percent. Voter turnout was extremely high in the capital. But more than 15 percent of the electorate, in Russian-annexed Crimea and two eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, were unable to cast their votes as polls were blocked by pro-Russian separatists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed 23 May 2014 to recognize the outcome of Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine, while voicing hope that Ukraine's new president will end military operations against separatists in the east. Putin spoke in St. Petersburg, as pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine ambushed a Ukrainian militia group near the Russian border, killing at least two Ukrainian volunteers and wounding nine others. Thirteen government troops were killed by separatists in the same area the previous day, raising fears of fresh violence in the runup to the vote.

According to exit polls, Dmitry Yarosh, the presidential candidate of the supposedly rampant neo-fascist Pravy Sektor won 1 percent of the vote. Oleh Tyahnybok of Svoboda, a party that might sit alongside Marine Le Pen’s National Front on the scale of extremism, won all of 1.3 percent. Neither managed to do as well as Vadim Rabinovich, a businessman and the chairman of the European Jewish Parliament, who scored 2 percent.

Ukraine Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on 21 February 2014 announced an early presidential election and a return to an earlier constitution in concessions aimed at finding an end to the bloody political crisis gripping the country. Earlier in the day, Yanukovych met with opposition leaders and signed a document intended to end the unrest. The country's parliament has already granted a central demand of the opposition and approved a bill to restore the 2004 constitution, designed to limit presidential powers and make Ukraine a parliamentary republic.

The main goal of the protesters was to topple the government and remove the president. The opposition said time and time again that they would stop short of nothing but new elections. Polls saw roughly 50% of the country supporting the opposition and 42% supporting Yanukovich. And his ratings have gone a little bit up recently. The question is if he went to a second round, he’ll probably lose to the opposition, and therefore was going to try to avoid having elections until schedule which is February 2015, if he can get away with them.

Ukraine's parliament overwhelmingly elected its speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, as interim president on 23 February 2014, just one day after throwing out Yanukovych. Turchynov, a close confident of Yulia Tymoshenko, would serve as president until a presidential election on May 25. A former head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), he is a leading member of her Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party whose political career has been closely intertwined with Tymoshenko's. On 26 February 2014 Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov assumed the duties of commander in chief of the country's armed forces.

Most media attention focused on three established politicians as the major contenders: lawmaker and former World heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who heads an upstart party, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform; the confectionary billionaire Petro Poroshenko, a business oligarch nicknamed the “chocolate king” who backed the Maidan uprising from the start; and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was released from jail by Yanukovych at the tail-end of the uprising.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the arch-rival of Yanukovych, headed the country's second-largest political party, Batkivshchyna. ?The heroine of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, was narrowly defeated by Yanukovych in a 2010 presidential election and later jailed on charges of abuse of office widely seen as revenge by Yanukovych. Her February 22 release from a prison hospital after more than two years in jail unexpectedly thrusts her back into Ukraine's political arena. Despite rejecting a possible appointment as acting prime minister, she has indicated she will consider running in the new presidential election.

A fierce critic of Yanukovych for over a decade, boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko was a visible presence at the Euromaidan protests. The 42-year-old headed the UDAR (Punch) political party, which campaigns against government corruption. Unlike most politicians, including in the opposition, his name is untainted by corruption. Klitschko announced plans to run for president.

In January, opinions polls suggested Klitschko would have beaten Yanukovych in an election but by March surveys suggested he was lagging behind Poroshenko, who was serving as an interim trade minister and was an independent lawmaker. According to a poll conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology from February 28 to March 3 for a commercial client, Poroshenko was favored by 20 percent of the survey’s respondents while Klitschko trailed with 12 percent support just ahead of Tymoshenko’s nine percent.

Tymoshenko’s poor showing in the poll didn’t surprise some commentators. For many of the young, she is seen as a throwback and corruption allegations have dogged her, although the graft charges she was jailed on by the Yanukovych administration appeared to most Ukrainians as politically motivated. More damaging for her may be that Russia’s Vladimir Putin had hinted publicly that he favors her, noting that they had had a productive relationship when she was prime minister.

One of the Maidan leaders, Olga Bogomolets, a medical doctor who was nicknamed during the protests the “white angel”, is considering running for the presidency. And Dmitry Yarosh, the fiery leader of shadowy far right group the Right Sector, declared last week he would run. No one is suggesting either can win the contest but they could shake things up.

Nearly a quarter of Ukrainians were ready to vote for parliamentarian Petr Poroshenko in the presidential elections on May 25, as is evident from a poll conducted by the SOCIS social and marketing research center, the Kyiv International Sociology Institute, the Rating sociological group, and the Razumkov center. The poll, where results were presented on 26 March 2014 by the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, showed that 24.9% of the respondents are willing to vote for Poroshenko in the presidential elections, 8.9% for UDAR party leader Vitali Klitschko, 8.2% for Batkivshchyna party leader Yulia Tymoshenko, 7.3% for Party of Regions parliamentarian Serhiy Tihipko, and 4.2% for former Kharkiv regional administration head Mykhailo Dobkin.

Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko may expect support from 3.6% of the voters, Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko from 3.5%, parliamentarian Anatoly Hrytsenko from 3.2%, Svoboda party leader Oleh Tyahnybok from 1.7%, Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh from 0.9%, and Ukrainian Choice leader Viktor Medvedchuk from 0.4%. When the respondents were asked who, in their view, would be elected president regardless of their preferences, 23.6% mentioned Poroshenko, 8.8% Tymoshenko, 6.6% Klitschko, 3.6% Tihipko, and 0.9% Symonenko.

The poll indicates that Poroshenko is almost certain to proceed to the second round of the elections and that Klitschko, Tymoshenko, and Tihipko have virtually equal chances to do so. If Poroshenko and Klitschko compete in the second round, the former candidate may expect 42.9% of the vote and the latter 15.3%. If Tymoshenko makes it to the second round, Poroshenko would garner 46.3% and Tymoshenko 11.6%. If Poroshenko has to compete with Tihipko in the second round, he would get 50.8% of the vote, and the Party of Regions candidate 14.4%.

The 47th extraordinary congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine in Donetsk on 25 March 2014 nominated party leader Petro Symonenko as a candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for May 25. Almost all delegates voted for this decision, one voted against it and 23 abstained. "I thank you for your trust and will try to justify it," Symonenko said. He said that the election campaign was being held in very difficult conditions. The Ukrainian Communist Party will not be able to express its position through subordinate media, therefore the work of each activist is important, he said.

Yulia Tymoshenko announced 27 March 2014 she would run for president in upcoming elections scheduled for May 25. "Yes, I plan on running for the presidency of Ukraine," Tymoshenko said during a press conference in Kiev, adding that she would seek nomination as the candidate of her Batkyvshchina (Fatherland) party. Tymoshenko proposed presidential runners to abandon the "brainwashed" advertising and hold debates during the election campaign, and instead to purchase military hardware for the army. "I invite all the presidential candidates, I start with myself, to abandon a brainwashed, empty, useless advertising on billboards, poles, on television channels," Tymoshenko said.

Yulia Tymoshenko became a candidate for President of Ukraine, nominated by the Batkivshchina party 29 March 2014. This decision was made today at the party congress. Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has submitted documents to the Central Elections Commission (CEC) for registration as presidential candidate. Tymoshenko personally submitted the full package of documents, including a certificate on contributing a monetary deposit of 2.5 million hryvni, becoming the 17th contender for the post of president.

Olga Bogomolets submitted the documents to the CEC regarding running for president of Ukraine. Bohomolets became a national hero for treating injured antigovernment protesters in Kyiv. It is known that now documents to the CEC has already filed self-nominee - MP from the Party of Regions Tihipko. In turn, the Communist Party had already put forward its own candidate - Peter Simonenko. Also submitted documents to the CEC Mikhail Dobkin and President Ukrainian Jewish Congress Vadim Rabinovich. Also about the candidate's intentions informed the People's Deputy Anatoly Gritsenko.

The congress of the Party of Regions was held March 29 in Kyiv. Leader of the Party of Regions parliamentary faction Oleksandr Yefremov said that the congress would nominate a candidate from the party to run in the May 25 presidential election. One of the leaders of the Party of Regions Sergey Tigipko (a.k.a. Serhiy Tyhipko or Sergiy Tigipko) submitted to the Central Election Commission documents for his registration as a self-nominated candidate for Ukrainian president. Centrist candidate Tigipko's 13 percent in the 2010 exceeded predictions. The former Deputy Prime Minister and National Bank of Ukraine Governor's preferred name transliteration is "Sergey Tigipko," as he is exclusively a Russian speaker, although his name has been transliterated as "Serhiy Tyhipko," "Sergiy Tihipko," or "Serhiy Tyhypko" in English-language sources. The Party of Regions was made up of several different groups, but when threatened, all parts of the party joined forces against the threat. Many saw Regions strongly divided between Akhmetov/Kolesnikov and Yanukovych/Klyuyev. There are many groups and interests in the party and discussions are continued until a consensus is reached.

The Party of Regions of Ukraine deprived Viktor Yanukovych of party membership based on his application. The decision was made at a party congress held behind closed doors. Former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, former Incomes and Revenues Minister Oleksandr Klymenko, former First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov, Donetsk regional council head Andriy Shyshatsky, and former parliamentarian Valery Konovalyuk were also expelled from the party.

Ex-Kharkiv Oblast Governor Mykhailo Dobkin was introduced as the Party of Regions’ presidential candidate on 28 March by five stalwart members of the former ruling party at the Intercontinental Hotel. Borys Kolesnikov, a member of parliament and former transport minister, said that the party’s political council had chosen the 44-year-old politician to run in the May 25 election. His candidacy is expected to be formally recognized by a vote at the party’s congress. By 2009 Kharkiv Oblast political leaders had set aside long-running political rivalries and started to work together. The Oblast Council controlled by Prime Minister Tymoshenko's bloc, and Party of Regions Kharkiv Mayor Mykhailo Dobkin had spent the last three years fighting each other.

Despite being under house arrest on suspicion of “infringement upon the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Dobkin said he will run on a platform to restore good relations with Russia. Dobkin was arrested March 10 in Kharkiv and released on bail later after billionaire Rinat Akhmetov pledged that he would assure Dobkin's presence in court proceedings.

Vitali Klitschko, Ukraine's boxer-turned politician, said 29 March 2014 he would not contest snap presidential elections in May. Instead, he is giving his support to businessman Petro Poroshenko. Klitschko told a congress of his UDAR (Punch) party on Saturday that he would not be taking part in the race for Ukrainian president, and instead back the billionaire confectionary oligarch Petro Poroshenko in his candidacy. "We have to nominate a single candidate representing the democratic forces," Klitschko said. "This had to be a candidate who enjoys the strongest public support. Today, this candidate in my opinion is Petro Poroshenko". Klitschko however said he would run for mayor of Kyiv in elections on May 25 held alongside the presidential vote.

Organizer and coordinator of the Maidan medical service Olha Bohomolets became a self-nominated candidate to a post of President of Ukraine at the snap elections thanks exclusively to donations of Ukrainians, who collected the funds for the money deposit over two days. “Irrespective of the donated financial aid amount, I sincerely thank everyone who sent it. Over two days, hundreds of people, with many of them I had not the honor to be familiar, have sent their funds for opening the account,” Bohomolets said.

Standard set of documents for potential candidates includes an income statement. This information is publicly accessible, and journalists scrutinize it with great enthusiasm. According to the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine among all the candidates intended to run for the presidency, the wealthiest is the businessman Petr Poroshenko, with yearly revenue of 4.7 million dollars. The leader of Svoboda Party Oleg Tyahnibok made far less money last year – twenty-two thousand dollars only. He owns a part of an apartment and a car. Another eminent participant of the presidential race, Yulia Tymoshenko, has earned about sixteen thousand dollars despite the fact she has been in prison for the last three years. The only property former Prime Minister possesses is a flat. The most modest income statement was presented by Dmitry Yarosh, the Right Sector chief: “Income” column Yarosh has marked with a zero and in “Professional Activity” line he has written - “temporarily unemployed”.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) completed the registration of candidates for president of Ukraine on 04 April 2014. The commission has received 46 applications from those wishing to take up the country's top post, rejecting exactly half of them - 23. The most common reasons for refusal of registration were non-compliance of the documents submitted with election laws and the failure to submit a UAH 2.5 million monetary deposit, a Ukrinform correspondent reported. Thus, 23 candidates will participate in the presidential race, including seven of them nominated by political parties and 16 independent candidates.

In particular, the candidates nominated by their political parties include People's Movement of Ukraine leader Vasyl Kuibida, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, Batkivshchyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko, Civil Position Party leader Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Svoboda leader Oleh Tiahnybok, Ukrainian People's Party leader Oleksandr Klymenko, Radical Party leader Oleh Liashko.

The self-nominees include former First Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin, MPs Petro Poroshenko, Serhiy Tihipko, Oleh Tsariov, former Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boiko, former Head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration Mykhailo Dobkin, Head of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress Vadym Rabinovych, former Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mykola Malomuzh, former Social Policy Minister Natalia Korolevska, former Head of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine Vasyl Tsushko, Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh, doctor and social activist Olha Bohomolets, politician Zorian Shkiriak, former MP Valeriy Konovaliuk, as well as Interagroexport CEO Volodymyr Saranov and Kharkiv businessman Andriy Hrynenko.

The first amendments to the Constitution should be made before the presidential elections, they should define the powers of the President and other authorities, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said 11 April 2014. Yatseniuk said that the first amendments to the Constitution should be made before the presidential elections set for May 25th. "Prior to the presidential elections the country needs to know what powers the President will have," Yatseniuk said. According to the Premier, this also applies to other authorities, including prosecutors.

Ukrainian confectionery tycoon Petro Poroshenko has a chance of winning the May 25 presidential election in the first round, an opinion poll indicated on 23 April 2014. It found 48.4 percent of Ukrainians who planned to vote favored Poroshenko. That is just short of the absolute majority needed to avoid a runoff against the second-placed candidate, who the survey found would be former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko with 14.0 percent.

Neither of the frontrunners were spending much time on the stump. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko officially abandoned campaigning to turn her party into a “resistance” force. Pyotr Poroshenko, the chocolate mogul and favorite to win, aired a TV ad -- that he doesn't even appear in himself, it features Klitschko speaking rather than Poroshenko. Poroshenko’s rise in popularity stemmed from appearing moderate in contrast with Tymoshenko.

Presidential elections cannot take place only in the case of imposing the state of emergency on the whole territory of Ukraine. Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission Andriy Mahera has said about this at a briefing at the Ukrainian anti-crisis media center on 25 April 2014, Ukrinform reported. "I do not believe in this development of events (disruption of the presidential elections - Ed.). This is a very serious issue for the country and this election is very important,” Mahera said.

According to him, in order to impose a state of emergency in the country, 226 votes of the Verkhovna Rada deputies are necessary. "I have no belief that there will be these 226 votes of deputies and they will take responsibility to cross the electoral process," the Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission said. At the same time, Mahera noted that, even if in certain regions of Ukraine there will be a state of emergency, it will not affect the election. "In accordance with the Law "On the Election of the President of Ukraine," the election is considered valid regardless of the number of polling stations and the number of people, who came to vote," he reminded.

A majority of Ukrainians is likely to vote in the May 25 presidential election, according to a new national survey conducted by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) between April 29 and May 11, 2014. IFES has conducted regular public opinion surveys in Ukraine for the past two decades and has been a leading source of research on political attitudes in the country. Overall, 55 percent of Ukrainians say they are very likely to vote and 25 percent say they are somewhat likely to vote in the presidential election. In the East, where the ongoing conflict has led many to expect widespread voter apathy and intimidation, 62 percent of Ukrainians still say they are somewhat (21 percent) or very (41 percent) likely to vote.

Petro Poroshenko was the clear frontrunner in the first round of the presidential race. Among likely voters, Poroshenko has the support of 42 percent of voters nationwide, followed by Yulia Tymoshenko at 7 percent, and Serhiy Tihipko at 5 percent. Mykhailo Dobkin, Anatoliy Grytsenko and Oleh Liashko each poll at 4 percent.

Poroshenko was the leading choice for president in all regions of the country, with especially strong support in the West (53 percent) and Center (48 percent) among likely voters. Voters in these two regions have the highest likelihood of all regions to take part in the presidential election, another factor that may contribute to an outright victory for Poroshenko in the first round.

Voter turnout was likely to be lowest in the East, where a significant percentage of voters (39 percent) anticipate being pressured not to take part in the presidential election. In Kharkiv, 59 percent of respondents expect to feel pressured to abstain from voting, with fewer citing pressure in Donetsk (40 percent), Luhansk (39 percent) and Dnipropetrovsk (31 percent). Despite such expectation of pressure, 41 percent of the voters in East said they were very likely to vote in the presidential election, and 21 percent somewhat likely.




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