Political Pulse: Presidential field takes shape

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Nov. 12, 2009, 10:27 p.m. | Politics — by Staff reports
Who are the 18 candidates registered by election officials? Inna Bohoslovska

Bohoslovska, 49, recently quit the Party of Regions faction in parliament. A lawyer and auditor from Kharkiv, she was first elected to parliament in 1998. Throughout her political career, she has changed political camps numerous times but has consistently worked closely with billionaire Victor Pinchuk, son-in-law to ex-president Leonid Kuchma. In 2005, she led protests against Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's plans to cancel Pinchuk’s acquisition of Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant. Bohoslovska’s campaign centers mostly on criticizing Tymoshenko.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Yulia Tymoshenko, 49, is a former natural gas trading tycoon turned politician in the late 1990s. The Dnipropetrovsk native served in Yushchenko’s reform-minded government in 1999-2000, and played a big role in backing his presidential candidacy in the hotly contested 2004 election, which he won thanks to the Orange Revolution. She served briefly as prime minister in 2005 until being ousted in connection with a falling out with Yushchenko. She regained the premier's job in 2007 after a strong showing in snap parliamentary elections.

Yuriy Kostenko

Kostenko, 58, has been a member of the pro-Yushchenko Our Ukraine grouping in parliament since 2002. He was one of the founding members of the Ukrainian Rukh party in 1989 and has remained a leader of two Rukh parties that splintered out of the original grouping. From 1992 to 1998, he served as minister in charge of environmental issues. In 1999, he ran in the presidential election, receiving 2 percent of the vote in the first round. Kostenko holds a Ph.D. from the Zaporizhya Institute of Engineering.

Mykhailo Brodskiy

Brodskiy, 49, is a businessman turned politician. He was a self-nominated candidate in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election from the Yabloko Party, which he co-founded and headed from 2003-2005. The Kyiv native ran the Kyivskie Vedomosti publishing house in 1998, but lost control of it after being jailed on corruption charges. The publicity over the case helped him get elected to parliament that year. Brodskiy allied himself with Yulia Tymoshenko before and during the Orange Revolution, but broke with the prime minister before snap parliamentary elections in September 2007.

Anatoliy Hrytsenko

Hrytsenko, 53, a 20-year military veteran from Cherkasy Oblast, was elected to parliament in 2007 on the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense bloc ticket backing current President Victor Yushchenko. He is currently an independent, but chairs the Rada’s National Security and Defense Committee and served as defense minister from 2005-2007. From 1999-2005, he ran the Razumkov think tank based in Kyiv. He is married to one of Ukraine’s most influential women, Yulia Mostova, deputy editor of Zerkalo Nedeli weekly newspaper.

Oleksandr Moroz

Moroz, 65, is the long-time leader and founder of Ukraine’s Socialist Party. He served as Verkhovna Rada speaker twice, first from 1994-1998, then again in 2006-2007 when his party formed a governing coalition led by Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych. After making this unpopular alliance, his Socialist Party failed in a 2007 snap election to muster enough support to gain representation in parliament. The Kyiv Oblast native has been involved in bringing to light Ukraine’s most notable scandals, including the disappearance of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000 and the release of recordings made in former President Leonid Kuchma’s office between 1999 and 2000.

Serhiy Ratushnyak

Ratyushnyak, 48, is mayor of Uzhhorod, the capital of Zakarpattya Oblast, where he first was elected in 1994. He was re-elected in 1998 and 2006. The Uzhhorod native made headlines in August when he was accused of roughing up a volunteer for presidential candidate Arseniy Yatseniuk, whom the mayor later called “a nasty Jew mason.” Ratushnyak was charged in 2000 with embezzlement, but released after the charges were dropped. The 48-year-old entered politics in 1994 after creating RIO, a syndicate of enterprises engaged in beverage sales, the production of cured meats and taxi service.

Volodymyr Lytvyn

In December 2008, Lytvyn, 58, regained the Verkhovna Rada speaker job after his Lytvyn Bloc joined the governing coalition lead by Yulia Tymoshenko. His previous stint as parliament speaker was in 2002-2006. Prior to that, he served as chief of staff to then President Leonid Kuchma. The Zhytomyr Oblast native graduated in 1978 from Kyiv National Shevchenko University’s History Department.

Lyudmyla Suprun

Suprun was elected to parliament on the People’s Democratic Party ticket in 1998 and on the Labor Party of Ukraine ticket in 2002. The Zaporizhya native studied law at Kyiv National Shevchenko University and the Koretsky State Law Institute before joining Interagro, a company she headed from 1993 to 1997, when she was recognized as “Businesswoman of Ukraine.” Suprun headed the Rada’s Budget Committee in 2005 and was recognized as “Honored Economist of Ukraine” in 2006.

Arseniy Yatseniuk

At age 35, Yatseniuk boasts more experience than many of Ukraine’s presidential candidates. Along with partners, Yatseniuk launched his Yurek Ltd. legal services firm before even completing his law degree from Chernivtsi University. In the late 1990, he moved to Kyiv to work in banking. Following a stint as economy minister of Crimea, Yatseniuk in 2003 was appointed first deputy chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine. After leaving the central bank, Yatseniuk served as deputy governor of Odesa Oblast until September 2005. He next served as economy minister under former prime minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, deputy head of the presidential office in 2006 and foreign minister in 2007. He briefly served as parliament speaker after snap elections in September 2007.

Oleh Riabokon

Riabokon, 36, is a native of Vinnytsya. He received a law degree (with honors) from Kyiv National Shevchenko University in 1995 and received a masters of law from Georgetown University Law Center in 1996. He also studied Practice of Trade Policy in 2008 at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He founded Magisters law firm in 1997 and was an adviser to various Ukrainian ministries in 1994-2003. Riabokon quit his law firm in September 2009 to launch his political career.

Victor Yanukovych

Born into the family of a metalworker and a nurse in the Donetsk Oblast city of Yenakiyevo, Yanukovych, 59, had a troubled past.He was twice jailed for violent crimes in his youth but his official biography states that his convictions were later expunged. Yanukovych began his career as a transport executive in the Soviet Union’s key coal-mining industry in eastern Ukraine. He says he received his doctorate of economics - the equivalent of a Ph.D. - in 2000. He became governor of the Donetsk region, home to more than three million people and an economic powerhouse of Ukraine, less than a year after entering the local administration. Kuchma appointed him prime minister in late 2002. Yanukovych served as prime minister again in 2006-2007. Yanukovych and his Regions party have consistently been backed by big business tycoons from the Donbass region, including Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man.

Oleh Tiahnybok

The right wing native of Lviv Oblast, Tiahnybok, 42, was expelled from the pro-Yushchenko Our Ukraine faction in 2004 “for anti-Semitic and xenophobic statements.” Since February 2004, Tiahnybok has headed the Freedom (Svoboda) party. He was a member of Ukraine’s Social-Nationalist Party, and from 1994-98 served as a member of the Lviv Regional Council.

Victor Yushchenko

Propelled to Ukraine’s presidency by the Orange Revolution, Victor Yushchenko, 55, headed the central bank through much of the 1990s. He is Ukraine's third president and has staked out firmly pro-Western stances. He served as prime minister in 1999-2001. After being ousted, he formed his Our Ukraine political grouping, which mustered strong support in a 2002 parliament election. As prime minister in 1999-2001, his Cabinet was touted as Ukraine’s first reform-minded government. But his presidency has been marred by relentless bickering with opponents and Russia which have sidelined reforms. He lead his Our Ukraine political grouping in parliament and also served as prime minister under ex-President Leonid Kuchma. The Sumy Oblast native has been married twice. He has five children and two grandchildren.

Sergiy Tigipko

Tigipko, 49, is a career banker and politician. In the early 1990s, the Moldovan native earned his fortune in Privatbank, one of the country’s largest banks. He exited the bank in the late 1990s upon launching his political career, first serving as economy minister (1997-1999), then as lawmaker and central bank chief. He chaired the election campaign in 2004 for presidential candidate Victor Yanukovych. After a humiliating defeat, Tigipko stepped out of Ukrainian politics to build up a bank which he sold to Swedbank group for nearly $1 billion. This year, he announced his return to Ukrainian politics.

Oleksandr Pabat

Hailing from Poltava Oblast, 35-year-old Pabat earned a dentistry degree in 1996 from Kyiv’s Bohomolets State Medical University. He later studied economics and law at Kyiv National Shevchenko University in Kyiv. From 2000-2005, Pabat served as deputy chairman of Kyiv’s Svyatoshinskiy district, founding an ecology-based organization and several youth clubs. In 2005, Pabat founded Citizens Activist Kyiv, a non-governmental civic activist organization. He co-founded the People’s Salvation Army in 2009. Pabat has served as a Kyiv city councilmember since 2002, and has in recent years been allied with the city’s controversial mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky.

Petro Symonenko

Symonenko, 58, joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1978, working his way up the leadership ladder as an apparatchik during the 1980s in Donetsk Oblast. He has headed Ukraine’s Communist party since 1993. He lost a second round presidential contest to Leonid Kuchma in 1999, getting 22 percent support. His party’s popularity has consistently waned during the past decade.

Vasyl Protyvsikh

Born in Oleshkiv village in Ivano-Frankivsk, 63-year-old pensioner Protyvsikh (until Oct. 2 Humeniuk) completed a law degree at Lviv Ivan Franko University after serving in the Soviet army. He was the mayor of Yaremche before being ousted in 1991 and later headed the customs service in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. Currently, he is the president of the Ivano-Frankivsk Chamber of Trade and Industry.
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