KIEV, May 26 – Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko suffered her first major political defeat on Sunday when her closest ally lost to incumbent Leonid Chernovetskiy at Kiev Mayor and local council election.
Tymoshenko had initiated the early election of Kiev mayor, a post she had hoped would help further her political expansion in Ukraine.
Oleksandr Turchynov, the first deputy prime minister, scored 18.6% of the vote, trailing behind Chernovetskiy’s 36.8%, the Kiev election commission reported Monday after counting 66% of ballots.
Tymoshenko for weeks has personally campaigned for Turchynov, her long time ally, in a bid to win the Kiev mayor seat. Analysts said that Tymoshenko had seen the post as an important advance toward the presidency next year.
“Turchynov’s defeat is obvious,” Dmytro Vydrin, a Kiev-based political analyst, said Monday. “The capital [of Kiev] forms the fashion for entire political landscape [in Ukraine].”
Vitaliy Klichko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, scored 17.7% of the vote, followed by 6.5% scored by Viktor Pylypyshyn, a member of former Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn’s Bloc, 4.3% scored by Mykola Katerynchuk, a member of Our Ukraine who led his own bloc, and Regions Party member Vasyl Horbal’s 2.5%.
At the election to Kiev Council, a local legislature, Chernovetskiy’s group scored 30%, followed by Tymoshenko’s group’s 22.4% and the Klichko Bloc’s 10.5%, the commission reported after counting 66% of the vote.
Other groups likely to end in the legislature include the Lytvyn Bloc, which scored 8.1%, centrist youth group HAK with 4% and the Katerynchuk Bloc’s 3.4%, according to the commission.
The figures suggest that Chernovetskiy, jointly with Lytvyn Bloc and HAK, two of his likely allies, will be able to form a 62-seat majority in the 120-seat Kiev council.
The development is a major setback for Tymoshenko, who has refused to nominate a single candidate with her possible allies, such as the Klichko Bloc, insisting on the election of Turchynov.
Tymoshenko did not make any comments or statement after the election, a sign of her major disappointment.
The Kiev election was also a failure for Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense, a bloc led by Internal Affairs Minister Vitaliy Lutsenko. Lutsenko and his People’s Self-defense group have been increasingly leaning towards backing the Tymoshenko group away from supporting President Viktor Yushchenko. (tl/ez)