Were this California, he’d probably be serving a life sentence under the “3 strikes” felony rules. But this is Ukraine, where mafia boss/convicted criminal Viktor Yanukovich may soon be the next president.
Yesterday’s Kyiv (Kiev) Post polls leading up to the presidential election in Ukraine next week show that voters could return pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich to power, despite their outright distain for him just half a decade ago.
Observers say the Jan. 17 vote could be a turning point for the country, which just a few years ago overthrew the government of Leonid Kuchma and Yanukovich, laying a foundation for membership in both the European Union and the NATO military alliance.
Ukraine’s leading newspaper also released the results of a Kiev International Institute of Sociology poll which indicated Yanukovich would capture 30 percent of the vote in the first round and 43 percent in the second round. His closest competitor, current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, would get 16 percent in the first round and 29 percent in a run-off and incumbent Viktor Yushchenko would garner 3.5 percent in the first round, the survey conducted in December indicated.
Yushcenko defeated Yanukovich in a rerun of a presidential run-off in 2004 after the Ukrainian Supreme Court determined Yanukovich’s campaign committed election fraud. Yushcenko assumed office in 2005.
As former President Kuchma’s Prime Minister, Yanukovich historically has at least seemed to show a willingness to turn a blind eye to the routine disappearance of political opponents, killing of journalists and the sort of ruthless leadership one generally hoped had left the region for good.
Having watched the struggle for true independence in the Orange Revolution, and in the struggle over the recent difficult years, only can only wonder what will happen the day when the former member of the violent Ukrainian street gang “Pidnovka” once again assumes power in Ukraine.