KYIV, Oct. 5 - Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of Lviv and leader of the Self-Reliance Party, will run in next year’s Ukrainian presidential election, challenging the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, Politico reported.
Sadovyi, who has been mayor of the largest city in western Ukraine since 2006, announced his candidacy for the March 31, election at a youth forum on Tuesday.
“My goal is very simple and difficult at the same time — to restore your faith in Ukraine,” Sadovyi said, according to his party’s website. “The whole world is open to you today, but it is only here that you can build your own country. I suggest fighting for it together!”
Self-Reliance, called Samopomich in Ukrainian, is one of the few new political parties to emerge from the Maidan revolution that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, and it currently has more than two dozen seats in the parliament.
Sadovyi has been planning a presidential run for years. In 2014, he made a strategic calculation to remain at City Hall in Lviv rather than run on his party’s list in national parliamentary elections so that he would be well-positioned to campaign against the Poroshenko government.
In that election, pro-EU parties won a substantial majority.
In addition to challenging Poroshenko, the incumbent known as the “Chocolate King” because he made his fortune in the candy business, Sadovyi will also be running against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is trying to mount a political comeback for her Fatherland party.
Tymoshenko was jailed by Yanukovych and spent more than two years in prison on corruption and other charges that were denounced internationally, including by the European Union. She finished a distant second to Poroshenko in Ukraine’s last presidential election in 2014, with just 12.8 percent of the vote compared to 54.7 for Poroshenko.
In recent months, with the field of candidates still developing, Tymoshenko has been leading in opinion polls.
Ukraine remains locked in a war with Russia over two breakaway republics in the eastern Donbas region, which Russian forces helped occupy in 2014 after the Kremlin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea. Russia remains under stiff Western sanctions, and Ukraine was forced to seek heavy international assistance, including from the International Monetary Fund and the EU, to avoid economic collapse.
As a mayor from western Ukraine, Sadovyi faces an uphill battle in winning support from voters in the central and eastern parts of the country. He often jokes that tourists who visit his city from elsewhere in Ukraine instinctively look to exchange currency because Lviv feels more European than Ukrainian. (po/ez)