Ukraine's pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko launched his bid for a second five-year term in front of thousands of supporters yesterday with the EU membership among his policy priorities.
Poroshenko said Ukraine would apply to join the European Union by 2024 and that a special court to try corruption cases would be up and running this year, ahead of a tight election race in March.
A 53-year-old confectionary magnate and one of Ukraine's richest men, Poroshenko has steered the country on a pro-Western and pro-NATO course since coming to power in the aftermath of the 2014 Maidan protests and Russia's annexation of Crimea. "The feeling of deep responsibility before the country, before contemporaries, before past and future generations prompted me to decide to run again for the presidency," Poroshenko said. Long before the formal announcement, the president has sought to bolster his sagging public support by spearheading efforts to secure the independence of the Ukrainian church from the Russian Orthodox Church. His main rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, entered the race last week, promising to regain control of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula and the separatist-held areas in the east. She accused Poroshenko and his officials of profiting from the ongoing separatist conflict there.