Former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, now in the United States and seeking political asylum, is also running for president of the country he has fled. Lazarenko is a fugitive from warrants in Ukraine and Switzerland, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with suspect financial transactions involving several millions of dollars. Despite this impediment to an effective campaign, loyalists in Lazarenko’s Hromada Party have launched a petition to place his name on the ballot.
More seriously, parliamentary chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko of the Peasant Party became the fourth left-wing candidate to announce a challenge to incumbent President Leonid Kuchma in the October election. Tkachenko, who has a strong rural following, favors reunification with Russia and offers a “Ukrainian Revival” program that resembles a Soviet five-year plan. The divisions on the left–candidates from the Communist, Socialist and Progressive Socialist parties are competing–could ease the way to victory for the center-right Kuchma.