Yulia Tymoshenko to run for president – and take on Ukraine's 'Enemy No 1' Vladimir Putin

Widely expected announcement comes shortly after IMF agrees $18bn rescue package as interim PM warns of hard-hitting reforms

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is set to run for president in the upcoming May elections.

Speaking at a press conference, Ms Tymoshenko said she would run as a "candidate for Ukrainian unity" and fight against corruption.

Ditching her princess hairstyle, she claimed none of the other candidates understand "the depth of the lawlessness gripping Ukraine" and insisted Russian president Vladimir Putin remains the "number one enemy".

Often regarded as a divisive figure, she promised to find a "common language" between her pro-European supporters and Russian-speakers, many of whom continue to back former President Viktor Yanukovich.

Mr Yanukovich was ousted by the Ukrainian parliament after more than three months of protests in February.

"I will be the candidate of Ukrainian unity," Ms Tymoshenko said. "The west and centre of Ukraine has always voted for me, but I was born in the east, in Dnipropetrovsk."

Earlier this week, Ms Tymoshenko was dragged intro fresh controversy after she appeared to suggest it was time to "take up arms and go wipe out" Russians "together with their leader" in a leaked telephone call broadcast on Russian state television.

She did not name Mr Putin by his name.

Ms Tymoshenko tweeted the conversation had been altered and apologised for using "expletives". She added: "Cheers to the FSB", referring to the Russian security service.

According to opinion polls, chocolate baron Petro Pororoshenko is leading the race for the presidency with the backing of 24.8 per cent of voters, followed by boxer turned politician, Vitali Klitschko with 8.9 per cent of the vote. Ms Tymoshenko is on third place with 8.2 per cent of the vote.

Ms Tymoshenko, 53, was released from prison in February following the ousting of her political nemesis Yanukovich. She was imprisoned in 2011 for abuse of office linked to a gas deal with Russia.

 

She rose to the forefront of Ukrainian politics during the 'Orange Revolution' that overthrew Mr Yanukovich's first administration in 2004. Ms Tymoshenko served twice as prime minister and ran for president in 2010, only to be narrowly beaten in a run-off vote by Mr Yanukovich.

The announcement comes just hours after the International Monetary Fund pledged a $14-$18 billion rescue package for Ukraine to help the country's acting government meet its debt obligations against the backdrop of Russian intervention.

The IMF deal is set to unlock support of $27 billion from various countries over the next two years, but it will come with strings attached, including serious austerity measures and higher energy prices.

In a statement, the IMF warned Ukraine is facing "difficult" challenges following the "intense economic and political turbulence of recent months".

In an address to the Ukrainian parliament, interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned Ukraine is teetering "on the brink of the economic and financial bankruptcy" and signalled more pain ahead.

Mr Yatsenyuk said new structural reforms, including raising taxes and a freeze on minimum wage, will hit families hard but he insisted the government had "no choice but the tell the truth".

On Wednesday, Ukraine announced a radical 50 per cent increase in domestic gas prices starting 1 May in an effort to secure the IMF bailout, which made scrapping energy subsidies a key condition for the deal to move forward.

The election is expected to take place on 25 May.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Manufacturing Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a rare opportunity for ...

Recruitment Genius: Conveyancing Fee Earner / Technical Support

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Fee Earner/Techn...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'