Recently, Yuliya Tymoshenko has recruited a new VIP agitator. Leonid Kravchuk, the first popularly elected president of Ukraine, has been actively voicing his support of Tymoshenko, with his most recent statements having been made in December. Not only he praised Tymoshenko, but he also criticized Viktor Yushchenko for his appeal to unite around the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko.
Leonid Kravchuk claimed that “Batkivshchyna” leader Tymoshenko had all the chances to win the future presidential elections and he liked her election program, while Petro Poroshenko had too low rating to unite around him. He told this to journalists before the start of the round table on the Russian aggression on December 6.
According to him, if elections happened today, Tymoshenko would won, but he doesn’t know what will happen on March 31. Kravchuk added that he had read the program of “Batkivshchyna” leader and found it clear and persuasive.
When asked by the journalists if he considered Tymoshenko to be pro-Kremlin politician who did not support Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephaly, the first Ukrainian president answered that he did not know which politicians were pro-Kremlin.
This is not his only statement of such kind. On 7 September, during the conference in Lviv, Kravchuk stated that if a woman was elected the next president of Ukraine this would make the country’s independence effective and bring peace. In Kravchuk’s view, a woman knows best the value of life and how to protect it.
“I believe that if a woman had been the president during those hard times, Ukraine would not have had a war today. I have no doubt regarding this. And I think that when a woman becomes the president, she will treat peace and comfort of Ukraine as her ultimate goal,” Kravchuk told.
When asked about his preferences regarding presidential candidates, he openly admitted that he was sympathetic towards Yuliya Tymoshenko. He considers her to be the most experienced member of the legislature who has the best chances to win the presidential office.
“I believe that Yuliya Volodymyrivna [Tymoshenko] has the best chances to win the elections. You saw the latest ratings,” Kravchuk claimed.
Kravchuk also visited the presentation of the “New Course” program of “Batkivshchyna” leader and spoke highly of it.
“I imagined that if we lived according to the new scenario proposed by Yuliya Tymoshenko, this would be another Ukraine and another life. We should prepare for this and the people should accept it for it to become a reality,” he stated. When asked about prospects of socio-economic changes in the country, Leonid Kravchuk stressed that he himself performed his duties “with love.”
“Today, during the speech of Yuliya Volodymyrivna, her eyes were glowing! Everyone could see that she believed in what she was saying. These two hours were full of deep analysis and bright ideas,” he added.
Leonid Kravchuk also stressed that this program could be the foundation for various important transformations. “I believe that this course should be brought to life. We could think of some changes, additions and nuances to it – economic, ecological, legal and administrative ones – but they should be discussed during forums like this. This is totally normal process,” Kravchuk stated.
Usually, former heads of states refrain from such unabashed agitation and propaganda. 84-year-old Kravchuk should also have behaved as a neutral observer, but he doesn’t want to keep silence. Why? Let’s recall something from the past.
In August 2018, the former president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko told during an interview that Yuliya Tymoshenko, while being the prime minister, offered him to appoint Viktor Medvedchuk as a vice-prime minister. “She came to me,” Yushchenko told, “and said it would be better if Medvedchuk was the vice-prime minister. I was deeply shocked.” According to Yushchenko, Tymoshenko repeated this offer, but he rejected it. “When I answered firmly that this could not happen, she came up with another idea: to appoint Medvedchuk as the ambassador to Russia.” Yushchenko added that Medvedchuk wasn’t appointed as the ambassador either.
Yushchenko’s story reveals that Tymoshenko has long-standing ties to Viktor Medvedchuk whose godfather is Putin. Medvedchuk, meanwhile, has strong influence on Leonid Kravchuk.
After losing the 1994 presidential elections to Leonid Kuchma, Kravchuk didn’t retire from politics. In the 1998 elections, he led the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) created by Medvedchuk to the parliament. In fact, Kravchuk joined this party just before the elections. In October 1998, he became the member of the political bureau and political council of the SDPU(u) and from 2002-2006 he was the leader of the SDPU(u) parliamentary faction.
Probably, Karvchuk’s membership in the SDPU(u) does not tell us a lot. But the decision of Kravchuk, the first popularly elected president of independent Ukraine and the former head of the Ukrainian SSR parliament, to join Medvedchuk’s electoral bloc “Ne Tak!” shocked everyone. This bloc declared the goal of returning Ukraine under the Russian influence, supported Ukraine’s integration to the post-Soviet organizations and granting the Russian language official status and opposed Ukraine’s movement towards NATO. By joining “Ne Tak!”, Kravchuk put his reputation under great risk and demonstrated that consistency and adherence to advancing Ukraine’s independence were not among his strong traits. Fortunately, “Ne Tak!” lost the elections, but Kravchuk’s ties remained.
Should I explain that excessive support of Tymoshenko by Kravchuk has instrumental motives behind it? Medvedchuk, Putin’s godfather, spoke highly of Tymoshenko. Why should Kravchuk behave differently?