Ukraine’s presidential hopefuls face unprecedented pressure from security officials

Ukraine’s presidential hopefuls face unprecedented pressure from security officials
Ukraine's presidential hopefuls face unprecedented pressure from security officials

Due to the intrigue, the upcoming presidential elections have already proved the name of the most significant political event in Ukraine since the Revolution of Dignity. 44 candidates have already signed up. According to surveys, the second round is inevitable, while the biggest fight for the votes will be unleashed among the inexorable rivals of Petro Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelensky, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Yuriy Boyko. At the moment showman Zelensky is leading in the ratings by a small margin, leaving behind both current President and the Batkivshchyna leader. There is not so much time left before the elections get started, that’s why the participants choose the most effective ways to win in the electoral contest. If the opposition is focused on self-promotion and criticism of Poroshenko’s working results, then due to administrative and financial power the President has much more opportunities for pressure on his opponents.

The campaign headquarters of both Zelensky and Tymoshenko are spotting again and again the facts of illegal pressure on their representatives. For instance, the Anti-Corruption Action Centre asked the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine to open a criminal case against Yulia Tymoshenko for a possible unjust enrichment. She is accused of using services of American lobbyists who were paid from undeclared incomes. The politician will also have to put up with the fact that her namesake Yuriy Tymoshenko has been signed up for the election as well. That pre-election trick is based on the idea that the initial letter of the two politicians will match and voters will get confused. Besides that, pro-President media are sharing the news on the ex-PM Pavlo Lazarenko’s possible return to the country and he is allegedly ready to roll over on Tymoshenko after the amicable agreement with the U.S. government.

As for Volodymyr Zelensky, he has been stumbling across the pro-President media accusations of illegal agitation by means of his professional acting activity. He also has become a target for both nationalists and Donbass veterans. For instance, they gave him a tough welcome in Lviv on February 8. People linked with Oleh Synyutka, ex-chief of the local section of Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity” and current Lviv region governor, were noticed among attackers of Zelensky’s followers. However, an agreement between Poroshenko and Zelensky on withdrawal of his candidacy in the current President’s favor in exchange for the PM post is supposed to exist by the expert community.

In addition to Volodymyr Zelensky and Yulia Tymoshenko other candidates are suffering from Poroshenko’s team pre-election struggle techniques. For instance, Anatoliy Hrytsenko’s followers in Odessa were attacked by unidentified people on November 28, 2018. Besides that, Hrytsenko’s actions as the defense minister that according to the police led to country’s defense weakening are under investigation. Also, a criminal case against other candidate for presidency Valentyn Nalyvaichenko turned out to be opened. He is accused of a coup d’etat preparation.

It is pointed up in the SBU report that Nalivaichenko together with deputy defense minister Ivan Rusnak, Signal Troops commander Volodymyr Rapko, and some other Ukrainian Army units commanders prepared a phase-by-phase plan of a coup d’etat, and recruited plot members in 2018-2019. What is more, a non-staff advisor and MHP CEO Yuriy Kosiuk is called to be one of the sponsors of a new revolution. A conclusion if the accusations against Nalivaichenko are real or not can hardly be done by virtue of a single document. However, the politician’s activity investigation is a signal he is considered to be a threat for Poroshenko’s political ambitions despite his low ratings among the people and his tough authority in the SBU.

Thus, at least four Poroshenko’s rivals to break on through to the second round are under a hard police pressure, and regularly become objects for harassment in the media. Taking into account rigorous situation that has been formed at the elections eve, not all participants of the presidential race will be able to save their status before the voting day. That means the list of candidates to the second round can dramatically be changed even in the nearest future.