Who will be Ukraine's next president?

Around 30 men and women are running for president in Ukraine's elections on 31 March. With comedian Volodimyr Zelenskiy leading the polls, the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko sees his chances of re-election at risk. Observers voice disappointment at the lack of convincing candidates and criticise the current president's election campaign tactics.

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Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

No good candidates in sight

Almost two months after the presidential election in Ukraine there is still no good candidate for the post, Latvijas avīze laments:

“It's strange and incomprehensible: five years after the Maidan protests in one of the largest countries in Europe, with 45 million inhabitants, there is still no new, convincing politician. And this in a country where political life thrives. Where on a hot summer afternoon men in light grey suits and white hats discuss the latest developments in Ukraine and the world. But in election campaigns all we see is the old guard - Poroshenko, Tymoshenko, Lyashko. ... And of course a few second and third-row figures. That's it.”

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (PL) /

A favourite lacking good ideas

Zelenskiy offers at most a little variety, finds Dziennik Gazeta Prawna:

“He is benefiting from the sense of tedium that spreads among the Ukrainians when it comes to established politicians. The voters associate political veterans with corruption and unfulfilled promises and hold them responsible for the low wages. Then there's the weariness caused by the almost five-year-long war with Russia. However, Selensky's programme proposals contain nothing special. Asked by the online paper Ukayinska Pravda how he plans to fight corruption, which remains the biggest obstacle to the country's development, he said: 'I will introduce the same rules for everyone. Things will be done the way I learned they should be done during my legal studies.”

Iswestija (RU) /

State repression against opposition

Izvestia explains how Poroshenko is pulling all the stops to secure his grip on power:

“The repression against opposition candidates is growing. ... When it comes to the 'pro-West' candidates Tymoshenko and Zelenskiy, Poroshenko's team has had to confine itself to spreading bad PR in the media controlled by the oligarch-president to avoid a vociferous reaction by the West. But the state's hands are less tied when it comes to the opposition candidates who represent south-eastern Ukraine. They can take them out of the race, beat them up, pour Zelyonka [disinfectant dye] all over them, sabotage their election rallies, and even have investigations opened against them. The West won't kick up a fuss about that. There are a lot of similarities with the first time Poroshenko was elected.”