Ukraine's Yushchenko Says To Seek Re-Election

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, his public image in tatters after 4 1/2 years in office beset by constant bickering, said in an interview published on Wednesday he intended to seek re-election.

Viktor Yushchenko, whose rating stands at about 2%, has announced that he will run in both the parliamentary and the presidential elections.

Yushchenko also told the Kommersant Ukraina daily he would run for parliament if an early election for the assembly was called at the same time.

"I will be taking part in both elections. When I look at the ratings it does not mean that I have to reach for some sort of heart medication and change my mind," Yushchenko told the daily.

"I know that behind me are millions of people who share my values. If I change my mind, these people will see that as a sign of weakness or betrayal, a refusal to finish something that has been started."

Yushchenko enjoyed huge popularity after being swept to power in 2005 by mass "Orange Revolution" protests, his standing boosted by worldwide sympathy for having survived poisoning by dioxin which disfigured him for a time.

He won the presidency after the Supreme Court ordered a re-run of the election, Moscow-backed candidate Viktor Yanukovich having won the initial vote which was judged rigged.

His poll rating stood at a huge 60 percent as he called for Ukraine to move out of Moscow's shadow and work towards long-term membership of the European Union and NATO.

But most Ukrainians now speak of Yushchenko with open derision after constant quarrelling with the "orange" camp which proclaimed democratic values during weeks of mass protests.

With his poll ratings now in single figures, he is widely viewed as a figure on the way out of Ukrainian politics, with no chance of winning re-election.

Most of the rows pitted him against Yulia Tymoshenko, his ally from the revolution who was twice appointed prime minister. Each accuses the other of hindering reforms and betraying the national interest.

Yanukovich, who has also twice served as prime minister, leads opinion polls with more than 20 percent support. Following close behind is Tymoshenko, who still enjoys widespread support despite irritation among voters at the constant rows.

Both are almost certain to run in the presidential poll.

Parliament this month called a presidential election for October 25, earlier than had been expected, but the president has challenged the decision in the Constitutional Court.

Yushchenko's supporters and Yanukovich's Regions Party, favour holding an early parliamentary election at the same time as the presidential contest.

Source: Telegraph UK