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Ukraine election commission registers 14 presidential candidates

The election campaign kicks off on April 5. The Rada set early presidential elections for May 25

KIEV, March 31, /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s Central Election Committee has registered 14 people as candidates for the country’s presidency.

The committee made relevant decisions at its meeting on Monday. The list of candidates includes Batkivshchina (Fatherland) Party leader, ex-premier Yulia Timoshenko, businessman Pyotr Poroshenko supported by the Udar party led by former professional boxer Vitali Klitschko, Communist Party leader Pyotr Simonenko and Radical Party leader Oleg Lyashko.

Party of Regions parliamentary faction member Oleg Tsaryov, former head of Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service Nikolay Malomuzh and entrepreneur Andrey Grinenko were also registered as presidential candidates.

Earlier, the committee registered former deputy premiers Yury Boyko and Sergey Tigipko, ex-governor of the Kharkov Region Mikhail Dobkin, businessman Vadim Rabinovich, former deputy prosecutor general Renat Kuzmin, Interagroexport company head Vladimir Saranov and former lawmaker Valery Konovalyuk as candidates for presidency.

In line with the schedule, the Central Election Commission is to complete registration of candidates by April 4. The election campaign kicks off on April 5.

Ukraine is in political turmoil. Violent anti-government protests, which started in November 2013 when the country suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia, resulted in a coup in February 2014.

President Viktor Yanukovich had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns last month. New people were brought to power amid riots in Ukraine in February. The Verkhovna Rada, the country’s unicameral parliament, appointed its new speaker, Alexander Turchinov, as interim head of state and approved a new government led by Arseny Yatsenyuk, the leader of the parliamentary faction of the Batkivshchina party.

The Rada also set early presidential elections for May 25 and ruled to release from prison Yulia Timoshenko, who had been jailed since 2011 for abuse of power over a 2009 gas deal with Russia that the then Ukrainian authorities said was unprofitable for the country.

The Ukrainian crisis deepened when the Republic of Crimea, which does not recognize the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities in Kiev, signed a treaty with the Russian Federation to become its constituent member on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Pyotr Poroshenko earlier told media he had provided assistance to Euromaidan protesters in Kiev. “Euromaidan” is the unofficial name for anti-government protests in Ukraine that started when the country’s authorities refused to sign an association agreement with the EU last year.