Ukraine Monitor

Date: 15 March 2019

Poroshenko and Tymoshenko’s War – Zelensky Benefits

Three weeks before the first round of presidential elections in Ukraine, the first, stable position in polls is occupied by a comedian and TV producer Volodymyr Zelensky. Yulia Tymoshenko recouped her losses, beating Petro Poroshenko in polls again. The struggle between the current president and the former PM is intensifying. It seems that Zelensky, who is rather absent in the media (considering his unfortunate statements, this is the best tactic), benefits from the war between two rivals behind him.

SOURCE: PRESIDENT.GOV.UA

It seems that unless a drastic change in the election campaign happens soon, Zelensky will be bound to enter the second round of elections. According to the poll published on March 11 by the Rating sociological group, he occupies the stable, first place. The examination was conducted during another escalation of conflict between Poroshenko and Tymoshenko and it depicts the current problems of the president.

According to the recent poll, 18.2 percent of people who are going to participate in the elections want to support Zelensky. Tymoshenko, who in the latest polls occupied the third position, now is the second. 13.5 percent declare voting for her. Poroshenko gained 12.3 percent. The first five is closed by the former Minister of Defence Anatoliy Hrytsenko and Yuriy Boyko from the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc. A slight fall of Poroshenko and a rise of Tymoshenko may be only temporary and these two candidates will be struggling to enter the second round until the last moment. The age structure of the electorate is in favour of the president. Poroshenko has the similar support among all age groups, while Tymoshenko is supported mainly by the older voters and Zelensky by younger ones. The last group is, in general, less active and a question arises how many of them will eventually participate in the elections. Therefore, much will depend on the turnout.

The main dispute in the election campaign is still going on between Tymoshenko and Poroshenko and this situation will probably last until March 31. The former PM was the first one to attack when her support started to decrease. She sued Poroshenko for violation of the campaign rules and accused him of illegal funding of his campaign. However, the Supreme Court rejected her complaint on February 24. Three days earlier, SBU announced that it found an “election pyramid” financed by money from outside the campaign funds, which was focused on buying votes for a particular candidate during the election day. SBU did not expose the name of the candidate but, coincidentally, it conducted over 30 searches in residences of people connected with Tymoshenko’s party on the same day. Arsen Avakov, an influential Minister of the Internal Affairs, takes an interesting stance. The police in Sumy searched the headquarters of the Poroshenko Bloc with regard to the vote buying process. The District Prosecutor’s Office reacted immediately initiating proceedings concerning the abuse of powers by the police. Needless to say, the Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko is a close collaborator of Poroshenko. Avakov many times mentioned a possible violation of campaign rules by the president’s staff. Another attack on Poroshenko took place on February 25, when investigative journalists accused Poroshenko’s business partner of exposing the security sector to the loss of 9 million dollars in military orders. This affair probably caused the change in polls and the return of Tymoshenko to the second place.

While Poroshenko and Tymoshenko are beating each other, Zelensky is almost absent in the media. He acts as a new face in Ukrainian politics, not discredited in contrast to Tymoshenko and Poroshenko who have been present in politics for years. However, the election of Zelensky has many ifs and has to raise concerns. His statement in which he accused Poroshenko and repeated the propagandist thesis of the Kremlin: “People who came to power thanks to bloodshed, they gain from bloodshed” attracted publicity. In one sentence, he included the Russian thesis that Euromaidan was a planned conspiracy aimed to change the powers and the second Russian thesis that the war in Ukraine is still going on because governing elites in Kiev are benefiting from it. In any case, there are more accents favourable to Russia in Zelensky’s speeches and declarations.

All texts (expect images) published by the Warsaw Institute Foundation may be disseminated on condition that their origin is stated.

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