ABU DHABI // Ukrainians across the UAE rejoiced on Tuesday at the outcome of their country’s presidential elections.
As the billionaire Petro Poroshenko led the first round of elections with 54 per cent of the votes, citizens said they were hopeful he would pull Ukraine out of its crisis.
“I expected these results because I think he is one of the strongest candidates,” said Maryna Tuzhanska, a 21-year-old Ukrainian student at NYU Abu Dhabi.
“I’m personally satisfied with the results because having just one round is cheaper for the country, especially under such economic circumstances.”
She said she had a positive image of Mr Poroshenko, who comes from her home town of Vinnytsia.
“His main chocolate factory is there too and he’s been investing a lot in the city’s infrastructure, even though he’s not a mayor,” she said. “So generally, in our city, people have a good perception of him and I think, although he might not represent the whole population, the idea of having someone who knows a lot about economics from first-hand experience as a candidate sounds appealing.”
Denis Musiyichuk, a Ukrainian from Abu Dhabi, said he and his family were thrilled at the results.
“It’s probably the best outcome we could have,” he said. “My wife expected this and I was hoping for it but I’m very happy and pleased with the general attitude of Ukrainian people because they united and showed record attendance so they demonstrated unity in their desire for a better future for Ukraine.”
Although Mr Musiyichuk said he did not vote for Mr Poroshenko, the billionaire was one of his two favourite candidates.
“In general, Poroshenko is still an oligarch,” he said. “Some people are a bit suspicious about his honesty, openness and desire to break the corruption in Ukraine because he’s connected but, especially during the revolution, he showed his courage to be with the people, develop the country, reform the economic and political system and I think he will do his best. So far, he has already announced a number of decisions which I really like.”
Mr Poroshenko pledged to sign the economic half of an association agreement with the European Union, after the political part was signed in March. The agreement entails a free trade zone, steps towards visa-free travel and economic and judicial reforms.
“I’m happy because Poroshenko is a pro-European candidate so a lot of people voted for him,” said Ievgen Ianyshyn, who works in Abu Dhabi. “I was surprised he got 54 per cent, I expected around 40 but they’re great results, especially having a president from the first round.”
Although only about 100 people voted from the 300 expected in Abu Dhabi, Kateryna Drevetniak, the head of the election commission at the Ukrainian embassy, said she was pleased with the results.
“He is a really good man and the people believe in him, believe that he will make the country stable again. We all hope so.”