Ukraine's Tymoshenko Declares Presidential Candidacy

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a long-time political figure known for her shrewd political maneuvering and a signature peasant-style braid, has announced she is running in the country's May 25 presidential election.

Tymoshenko made the announcement Thursday, calling herself the candidate of Ukrainian unity. She represents the Fatherland political party, whose other prominent members include Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The Fatherland party voted last year to nominate Tymoshenko as its presidential candidate if she were able to run.

Yulia Tymoshenko is seen speaking at a news conference in Kyiv on March 27, 2014. /Reuters Yulia Tymoshenko is seen speaking at a news conference in Kyiv on March 27, 2014. /Reuters

Tymoshenko lost the 2010 presidential election to now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. She was jailed in November 2011 on charges of abuse of office -- charges she and her supporters say were politically motivated. She was released last month after the ouster of Yanukovych, when a revision of the Ukrainian criminal code decriminalized the actions for which she was jailed.

Tymoshenko, for all her visibility, is not assured of success in the upcoming election. Skeptics say she has too much of a checkered political history in Ukraine at a time when voters want fresh, forward-thinking candidates. In a recent opinion poll, Tymoshenko placed third among opposition candidates, trailing chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.

In a statement posted on her website Thursday, Tymoshenko said one of the reasons she was seeking the presidency was to build up Ukraine's defense capabilities. Tymoshenko said she was convinced she would "be able to defend Ukraine from aggression" and had "all hopes for a return of Russian-occupied Crimea."

VOA News / Mar. 28, 2014 08:13 KST