Profiles of three frontrunners of Ukraine's presidential election

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-29 14:33:11|Editor: Xiaoxia
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KIEV, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian voters are to cast their ballots on Sunday to elect the new president, who will lead the country for the next five years.

A total of 39 candidates will take part in the election. According to various opinion polls, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko and actor Volodymyr Zelensky are viewed as frontrunners in the presidential race.

Following are major facts about the three top candidates presented in alphabetic order by the last name.

Petro Poroshenko:

Poroshenko was elected Ukrainian president during a snap presidential election in May 2014, when he won a commanding victory with 54.7 percent of the vote on the first ballot.

Poroshenko was sworn in as the fifth Ukrainian president on June 7, 2014.

Born in 1965 in a small town of Bolgrad in the southern Odessa region in the family of an agricultural engineer, Poroshenko studied international relations at Kiev Taras Shevchenko National University in 1982-1989.

After his graduation, Poroshenko started a small business selling cocoa beans, and later expanded it by purchasing chocolate factories in northwest Ukraine and in Russia.

In 1996, Poroshenko created the large-scale confectionery company Roshen. In 2018, his fortune was estimated at 1.1 billion U.S. dollars.

Poroshenko first appeared at the Ukrainian political arena in the late 1990s, joining the Social-Democratic party, loyal to then-President Leonid Kuchma.

During his political career, Poroshenko served as the parliament member, foreign minister, trade minister, the head of the council that runs the national bank and the secretary of Ukraine's national security and defense council.

Poroshenko and his wife Marina, who is a cardiologist, raise two sons and two daughters.

The incumbent president is seeking re-election, promising the continuation of reforms, improved living standards and restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity through political and diplomatic means.

Poroshenko also pledged to continue Ukraine's course towards closer integration with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union.

Yulia Tymoshenko:

Tymoshenko is a leader of the Fatherland party, which holds 20 seats in the 450-seat Ukrainian parliament.

She was born in an industrial city of Dnipropetrovsk, now Dnipro, in central Ukraine in 1960 and graduated from Dnipropetrovsk State University in 1984 with the first-degree honor as an engineer-economist.

Prior to her political career, Tymoshenko worked as a practicing economist and ruled several family-owned businesses, including a video rental firm and an energy company.

In 1996, Tymoshenko was elected a parliament member as a representative of a single constituency district in central Kirovograd region.

Tymoshenko had served as Ukrainian prime minister two times -- from February 2005 to September 2005 and from December 2007 to March 2010.

In October 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to 7 years in prison on charges of the alleged abuse of office during the signing of a 2009 gas deal with Russia. The politician has denied all the charges, calling them politically motivated.

Tymoshenko was released on Feb. 22, 2014, under a fast-track procedure approved by the parliament after pro-European street protests known as Euromaidan toppled the previous authorities.

Tymoshenko previously participated in the presidential elections in 2010 and in 2014 and both times she came the second after Viktor Yanukovych and Petro Poroshenko respectively.

In January this year, Tymoshenko officially announced her bid for the 2019 presidential race.

Her electoral program named "New Course" envisages adopting a new Ukrainian Constitution, granting more powers to local authorities, rooting out corruption, and returning territories that fell beyond the government control under Kiev sovereignty.

Tymoshenko promised thatshe would resign if she fails to "break the old system and show the results" on the presidential post within 100 days.

Tymoshenko is married to a businessman Oleksandr Tymoshenko and the couple has a 39-year-old daughter Eugenia.

Volodymyr Zelensky

The 41-year-old Zelensky is a Ukrainian comedian actor, screenwriter and director. He has no previous political experience, is known locally for his role of playing the president in a Ukrainian TV-series the Servant of the People.

Zelensky was born in a city of Kryvyi Rig in central Ukraine in a family of a cybernetics professor and an engineer.

He graduated from the Kryvyi Rig department of Kiev National Economic University, where he majored in law. Yet, Zelensky never worked as a lawyer.

In 1997, Zelensky created a comedy troupe 95 Kvartal, which later transformed into a film studio Kvartal 95. The studio produces movies and TV-shows, which have been aired in Ukraine and abroad, mostly in the ex-Soviet countries.

In 2015, Kvartal 95 launched the popular political comedy TV-series the Servant of the People, featuring Zelensky as an idealistic president Vasyl Holoborodko.

In 2017, Kvartal 95 officially registered a political party named the Servant of the People, which later nominated Zelensky as president.

In his electoral program, the presidential candidate pledged to root out corruption, to ensure the equality of Ukrainian citizens before the law, to decide all important state issues through referendums and to improve healthcare and education services.

Zelensky also did not rule out direct negotiations between Kiev and Moscow on the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

In September 2003, Zelensky married his schoolmate Olena Zelenska. The couple has a 14-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son.