MOSCOW, April 1 (RIA Novosti) – The Ukrainian parliament has called for early presidential elections on May 25 following the unconstitutional ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in February amid violent street protests.
At least two dozen candidates have announced their intention to run in the race, a motley crew of businessmen, politicians and radical right-wing activists. Four of the most prominent are Mykhailo Dobkin, former governor of the eastern Kharkov Region, ultranationalist Oleh Tyahnybok who has risen to prominence in the new government, billionaire Petro A. Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was recently released from prison.
Mykhailo Dobkin, 44, a former governor of Kharkov Region in eastern Ukraine, has been nominated by the Party of Regions as a presidential candidate in upcoming elections to be held May 25.
Dobkin was born in Kharkov Region, where he studied international economics after having completed a law degree.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Dobkin held several prominent managerial positions in large companies.
He began a political career in 2002, serving as a member of Ukraine’s parliament.
In 2010 he was appointed governor of Kharkov Region.
Dobkin was dismissed by acting Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchinov last month, following a coup in the country’s capital, Kiev.
Dobkin has been under house arrest since March 20 on charges of undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine by organizing a secessionist movement.
He is married and has four children.
The Party of Regions is a centrist party popular in the country’s southern and eastern regions as it has a platform of protecting the rights of minority populations, including Russian speakers. The party disassociated itself earlier this month from its former head, ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of corruption.
Oleh Tyahnybok, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, has been nominated as a presidential candidate by the far-right Svoboda party. He was born in the western city of Lvov, to a family of doctors and is a doctor himself.
Tyahnybok is an active promoter of the far-right ultranationalist ideas of Stepan Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II in the wartime ethnic cleansing of Poles, Jews and Russians.
He was previously elected as deputy of the Lvov Region council.
In 2008, he ran for the mayor of Kiev, only receiving 1.37 percent of the vote.
He is a member of the committee on information technology.
He is married and has three children.
Svoboda is a radical far-right party, whose supporters actively participated in the violent protests that led to the ouster of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych last month. Party officials have at times advocated fascism and anti-semitism, and the party’s former logo was a modified swastika.
Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, has been nominated by Ukraine’s Batkivshchyna party as a presidential candidate.
The 53-year-old Tymoshenko was born in the country’s eastern city Dnepropetrovsk, where she studied management and economics at a local university. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, she worked as a manager at several companies in the petroleum and energy industries.
She entered politics in 1997, serving as a deputy in parliament. She quickly rose to become a major political figure, founding the Fatherland party in 1999.
In 2001, Tymoshenko founded a group of opposition parties, later renamed the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, winning more than 20 seats in parliament in elections in 2002.
In 2004 she helped form a coalition of parties, the Force of the People, which was to play a major role in the country’s Orange Revolution that began later that year.
Following the unrest of the Orange Revolution, she was catapulted to the post of Prime Minister under President Viktor Yushchenko, who less than a year later dismissed her over accusations that she had used her post to promoted business interests.
In 2006, Tymoshenko switched to the role of opposition leader. Her group of parties took nearly a third of the 2007 parliamentary vote, forming the “orange coalition” that held a parliamentary majority with Tymoshenko serving as prime minister.
In 2010, Tymoshenko announced a presidential run, in which she narrowly lost to Viktor Yanukovych. She was dismissed as prime minister a month later, again rejoining the opposition.
Tymoshenko was repeatedly involved in a series of criminal cases surrounding the embezzlement of state funds, smuggling, bribery and tax evasion. In a case concerning the gas deal she negotiated with Russia while prime minister she was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
She began her sentence at a prison in the eastern city of Kharkov in late 2011, but in May 2012 she was relocated to a hospital in the city after being diagnosed with a slipped disc.
In October 2012 she initiated a hunger strike to protest against election fraud.
She was set free in February following the nationalist coup that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
She and her husband married in 1979 and have one daughter, Yevhenia, who marred British rock star Sean Carr in 2005 before divorcing six years later.
The Batkyvshchyna (Fatherland) party was formed from a merger of several opposition parties. It advocates a pro-European stance, with at times nationalist leanings, such as calling mass starvations in Ukraine during Soviet rule in the 1930s a targeted genocide against the Ukrainian people, despite victims of the famine not being limited to Ukraine.
Petro A. Poroshenko has been named by Ukraine’s Udar party as its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.
The 48-year-old Poroshenko was born in 1965 in Ukraine’s southwestern Odessa Region, graduating with a degree in international economics from a university in Kiev in 1989.
He served in a series of managerial positions in businesses in the 1990s, including as general director of the investment house Ukrprominvest.
Poroshenko began his political career in 1998, serving as a deputy in the country’s parliament. In 2000 he founded his own party, Solidarity, which he chaired until 2002.
In 2003, he launched the first dedicated news channel in Ukraine, Channel 5, which became a major outlet for opposition views.
Poroshenko was one of the closest allies of Viktor Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution in 2004.
He held a series of senior government posts thereafter, including serving as Foreign Minister. He resigned in 2011 along with the entire government of Yulia Tymoshenko following the election of Viktor Yanukovych to the presidency.
In 2012 he was appointed Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
An author of several books and academic publications in economics, Poroshenko is one of the richest people in Ukraine. Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion earlier this year, with the majority of his assets stemming from Ukrprominvest, run by his father, which owns shares in dozens of large companies.
Poroshenko is married and has four children.
The UDAR party (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform) is led by former boxer Vitali Klitschko – who pulled out of the race and backed Poroshenko – and advocates a pro-Europe and anti-corruption position.