My newest looks at the recent Ukrainian presidential election, which saw the legacies of the failed, corrupt, ineffective, neoliberal Yushchenko and Yanukovych regimes swept aside and replaced by…a neoliberal candy billionaire who served in both the Yushchenko and Yanukovych cabinets. Now that’s Change You Can Believe In, and the rapidly escalating violence in the eastern part of the country is sure to help President-Elect Poroshenko hit the ground running, as it were.
With a reported 55% voter turnout, Poroshenko was the overwhelming victor, taking 54% of the vote, compared to the 13% received by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Turnout was depressed especially in the eastern part of the country where pro-Russia militias and their supporters boycotted the vote and the continued unrest forced the closure of as much as 75% of the region’s polling places. The results were a blow to far-right parties Svoboda and Right Sector, the candidates of which each received only around 1% of the vote a piece. But another far-right candidate, Oleh Lyashko, finished in third place with just over 8% of the vote.
At the same time that Poroshenko was celebrating his victory, violence in the Donbas city of Donetsk moved the country closer to civil war. A group of pro-Russian separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic reportedly took control of part of the city’s airport, prompting an assault by Ukrainian security forces that reclaimed the airport and may have killed as many as 35 separatists and 40 people overall. This was the most violent clash in the crisis since May 2, when more than 40 people were killed in Odessa after a pro-Ukrainian mob forced a crowd of pro-Russian protesters into a government building and set it on fire. Today separatists also reportedly shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter near the city of Slovyansk, killing 14 people, including a high-ranking general in the Ukrainian National Guard.