According to the press release passed by Gorshenin Institute to UNIAN, Kost Bondarenko, Head of Gorshenin Institute, thinks that opposition leader Victor Yanukovych and Prime-Minister Julia Tymoshenko are the only political figures in Ukraine who can claim presidency today, but it is early to say who’s going to win. The expert expressed his view at a press conference in Chernovtsy.

According to Mr. Bondarenko one should not have any allusions that Ukraine has a number of presidential candidates. I most certainly respect the right of every Ukrainian citizen to be elected, but we have to deal with the reality here. The data shows that only two candidates have real potential to take the highest office in the country – Victor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko. Most recent poll, conducted by Gorshenin Institute shows that today Victor Yanukovych can count on 28.3 % of the electoral vote. Almost 21 % of Ukrainians are supporting Tymoshenko. The rest of the candidates are far behind and don’t have any real chances to win these elections.

Mr. Bondarenko thinks that this year presidential campaign is essentially different from the previous battles. First of all there is no enemy this time. Neither of the candidates opted for that trick. In 2004 eastern Ukraine knew very well who the enemy was - Victor Yushchenko with his mandatory ukrainization and plans to welcome NATO military bases on Ukrainian territories. Western Ukraine saw Yanukovych as the enemy with the army of Donetsk criminals ready to surrender to Russia. PR experts managed to cultivate real fear among Ukrainians and were predicting splitting up of the country. Today we have a very different situation, noted Mr. Bondarenko.

Instead, says the expert, we are witnessing real attempts to unite Ukraine, stitch it up. “Yulia Tymoshenko is becoming very active in the East. According to experts she might get 25 % of the votes in traditionally “white and blue” Kharkov. Her support base in Donbass is also getting stronger, despite slowly.

Victor Yanukovych is trying to secure more support in the West, where up until recently he had almost none. To achieve that goal Yanukovych dropped the slogans that in the past divided Ukraine. Now his main focus is social and economic issues. Today analysts are confirming that he’s getting stronger support in Western Ukraine where he might win 9-10 % of the electorate.  Also his ratings in Kiev are much higher now, says Mr. Bondarenko.

That’s why the situation remains unclear. It is almost impossible to predict today who’s going to win. Tymoshenko is now enjoying a slow increase in ratings after having broken the 20 % record, which she hasn’t been able to achieve for a long time. Winning support in Western Ukraine, Yanukovych is loosing proportionally in the East.

As to Arsen Yatsenyuk, leader of the Front for Change, says Mr. Bondarenko, who was considered up until recently the third power, it looks like he’s betting on Yanukovych and will support him in the second round. In any case Yatsenyuk’s new geopolitical views Big Europe with Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Serbia in it, orthodox agenda might be the sign that he’s planning to play with Yanukovych on the same team. Looks like he’s going to support the Head of the Party of Regions in exchange of the promise to dissolve Rada and declare early elections. This is when he wants to form a new political power and under its flags to take over the Parliament. Therefore today Yanukovych and Yatsenyuk together are trying to neutralize Tymoshenko, noted Mr. Bondarenko.

Second factor that makes these elections very different from the previous years is the absence of international players. Big world powers came to terms with the fact that elections in Ukraine are an entirely internal matter. The US, Russia and EU, they all are ready to embrace whoever the winner might be. Well, may be with the exception of Victor Yushchenko who has long become a suitcase without a handle for the West and a pebble in a shoe for Russia. If Ukraine didn’t have in place a mechanism of democratic change of power, world players would find a less legitimate way to make this President go away. Fortunately, Ukraine despite everything is a democracy, says Mr. Bondarenko. Also he expressed his hopes that these elections will be timely and will be held without any attempts of sabotage, abuse and recount.