Currently leading in all opinion polls, Yulia Tymoshenko officially launched her campaign to become Ukraine’s president on January 22, with a rally in the country’s capital, Kyiv.
Promising large increases in salaries and pensions, Mrs Tymoshenko also told her supporters that she would stamp out, once and for all, corruption.
“Stopping corruption will not be a problem. We will do it. This is possible. You and I have the political will. I promise to become a nightmare for these guys who feed on corruption,” she said. Mrs Tymoshenko added that NATO and EU membership would be Ukraine’s primary foreign policy goals under her presidency.
Mrs Tymoshenko was Ukraine’s prime minister in 2005 and again from 2007-10. She ran for president in 2010 on a strongly nationalist platform but was defeated by the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, who subsequently jailed Mrs Tymoshenko in 2011 on charges of abuse of office and embezzlement. Despite two hunger strikes and several petitions from the international community (including the European Union) she was not released until February 2014, immediately after the Euromaidan Revolution which forced Mr Yanukovych from office.
She again ran for president in 2014, but was soundly defeated by Petro Poroshenko.
The two are likely to once again go head-to-head in this year’s poll, scheduled to take place on March 31. Mr Poroshenko’s support – which was in single figures late last year – has increased in recent weeks thanks primarily to his handling of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s quest for independence, formally granted by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, the de-facto head of the global Orthodox Church, on January 5.