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Ukrainian presidential election: Oligarchs making their bets

The election is due on March 31

KIEV, March 29. /TASS/. "De-oligarchization" - this beautiful slogan is used by almost all presidential candidates in Ukraine. The leader of the pre-election ratings, showman Vladimir Zelensky, speaks out against the influence of oligarchs on politics and the media. The leader of Batkivshchyna Yulia Tymoshenko leads her election campaign under the banner of the fight against the oligarchs. "My key position is de-oligarchization," the current president Pyotr Poroshenko said in the very first days of his presidency, himself being in the Forbes list top 10.

All the country's leading politicians declared the need to remove big business from power, to put an end to the system in which the state acts not in the interests of an absolute majority, but serves personal and group interests of a narrow circle of the country’s richest people. Nevertheless, it is no secret that all presidential candidates are conducting their election campaigns using oligarchs’ money. The only exception is the current head of state, Pyotr Poroshenko, who is both an oligarch and a sponsor himself.

Poroshenko claims that he finances his own election campaign, which is not surprising. His declared income for 2018 increased 82-fold and amounted to 1.3 bln hryvnia (around $50 mln). In the elections in 2014, when Poroshenko was elected head of state, he spent 96.475 mln hryvnia (now about $3.6 mln).

At the same time, according to experts, Poroshenko enjoys the support of the majority of oligarchs. One of the few exceptions is oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, who over the years has lost the largest bank in the country - Privatbank, has significantly lost influence in the energy sector, made enemies in the metallurgical business. Dmitry Firtash is also at issue with the current president, having been constantly experiencing problems with business assets in Ukraine, despite the fact that, according to the Ukrainian media, Firtash has played key role in getting Poroshenko the presidency in 2014.

Rinat Akhmetov is among those who actively support Poroshenko. Despite the fact that part of his business remained in the territory of Donbass, not controlled by Kiev, he is believed to have gained the most in recent years among the Ukrainian rich. Billionaire Viktor Pinchuk is also loyal to the new presidential ambitions of Poroshenko. In addition, agrarian oligarchs are consolidated around the acting president, becoming an increasingly important factor in Ukrainian politics.

The main power of Poroshenko, according to experts, is not even the support of oligarchic circles, but the availability of an administrative resource, with which he intends to win the election a second time.

Businessman Kolomoisky, who is in a confrontation with Poroshenko, at the end of 2018 published several program interviews, where he indicated that he was counting on the most rated presidential candidates to date: Vladimir Zelensky and Yulia Tymoshenko. According to Kolomoisky, only these two candidates can take the post from Poroshenko. According to a number of experts, either Zelensky or Tymoshenko are going to pass to the second round of elections, which will be held on April 21.

Some observers also consider the union of Zelensky and Tymoshenko possible. It is assumed that they would unite against Poroshenko, and if Zelensky wins, Tymoshenko would get the Prime Minister’s position.

Businessman Dmitry Firtash, who has been under investigation since 2014 in Austria, is close to presidential candidate, founder of the Opposition Platform - For Life Yury Boyko, they have common interests in the gas business.

The richest man of Ukraine Rinat Akhmetov clearly supports Poroshenko. At the same time, according to observers, Akhmetov has a couple of additional special projects. According to media reports, he invests in campaigns of the Opposition Bloc representative Alexander Vilkul, and the leader of the Radical Party Oleg Lyashko. Their ratings are far from presidential, and they will not be able to reach even the second round of elections. However, through his popular TV channel, Akhmetov can hype them up for the elections to the Verkhovna Rada, which will be held this fall. Political analyst Peter Oleshchuk believes that parliamentary elections is Akhmetov's top priority.