Tymoshenko for Ukrainian President: New Unity or Old Corruption?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Leadership in Ukraine will see a change in May when presidential elections are organized, and Yulia V. Tymoshenko, former prime minister and recently released from two and a half years spent in prison, has announced that her name will be one of those in consideration for the coming election. Ms. Tymoshenko is known for both her charisma and political divisiveness, considered a polarizing candidate by many.

Back when former President Viktor Yanukovych — having since fled from the country and accused of mass murder — rejected a deal with the European Union, Tymoshenko went on hunger strike in prison to protest the lack of an agreement. Upon being released, after Yanukovych’s departure, she went straight from the medical hospital — where she was being treated for back problems — to Independence Square where she gave a tearful speech, saying that, “After what you did, Ukraine is already yours,”  according to The New York Times.

While many are strong supporters, there are also a significant portion of Ukrainians who distrust Tymoshenko, believing she is similarly corrupt by the administration she was formerly a part of. She ran against Yanukovych in 2010, but lost by a slim margin. “She asked for medical care and now she comes out and wants to take power,” said Yevhenia Yakovyuk, a 73-year-old retired biology teacher in Kiev and a protestor of Yanukovych, to The New York Times after Tymoshenko was released.

Yakovyuk was reffering to the request that Tymoshenko had made while in prison to be released for foreign medical treatment, as well as when that she denied intentions to reclaim her position as Prime Minister after her release. Instead, Tymoshenko indicated her interest in running for president, now lately confirmed. “Young forces have grown up and they can do politics. She represents the past and the past system, which we want to change,” said Yakovyuk.

I will be the candidate of Ukrainian unity. The west and center of Ukraine has always voted for me, but I was born in the east,” said Tymoshenko in a recent press conference to announce her candidacy, as reported by The Associated Press.

Her competition for the position so far includes politician and billionaire Petro Poroshenko — known as the chocolate king for having made his money in the chocolate industry — and Vitali V. Klitschko, leader in parliament and of UDAR (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms), as well as being a former boxing champion.

Also important in Ukrainian news is an IMF loan accepted in the form of somewhere between $14 and $18 billion, which would require some strict reforms, ones that will likely prove unpopular with Ukrainian citizens. “The time has come to tell the truth, to do difficult and unpopular things. The country is short 289 billion hryvnia ($25.8 billion), which is practically equivalent to the entire state budget for this year,” said Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, stating that Ukraine is “on the brink of economic and financial bankruptcy,” according to The Associated Press.

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