Yulia Tymoshenko, the polarizing Ukrainian opposition leader, announced big political plans Thursday, just one month after being released from jail.
"I intend to run for president of Ukraine," the 53-year-old former prime minister told reporters.
In an imprisonment the West criticized as politically motivated, Tymoshenko was incarcerated after losing her last bid for the presidency to Viktor Yanukovych. Once he’d won the election, Yanukovych’s government quickly charged and convicted Tymoshenko for abuse of power over her role in a 2009 gas contract with Russia and sentenced her to a seven-year jail term.
Almost three years later, this February, just hours after Yanukovych was ousted by parliament, Tymoshenko was released from a prison hospital and immediately joined protests in Kiev.
Tymoshenko is presenting herself as candidate that can act as bridge between the old and new regimes, including Russia. “I will be able to find a common language with everyone who lives in the east," she said.
She’s also promising to target corruption and get money out of politics. "I stand out from all the other presidential candidates because I will actually be able to do this: I will be able to break up these huge clan-like corporations.”
Tymoshenko is campaigning against Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate tycoon, and Vitali Klitschko, a former boxing champion.
"None of the other politicians that intend to run for president understand the depth of the lawlessness gripping Ukraine," she said.
Ukrainians may not trust Tymoshenko to free them from corruption after being embroiled in scandal herself.
So far, Poroshenko is leading the polls.