Technical presidential candidates in Ukraine: who works for whom?

On March 8, 2019, the Central Election Commission approved the final list of 39 presidential candidates to be printed in the ballots. The 2019 Presidential election beat the record in terms of participation and involvement of “technical candidates” for presidency. The so-called “technical candidates” make up more than half of the total number of participants in the election race. Involving “technical candidates” in the electoral process is a very expensive instrument of political competition, which is used only by political heavyweights and real contenders for victory.

The main objective of a “technical candidate” is creation of a maximum number of problems for competitors and disorientation of voters, rather than victory.

The profile and capitalization of a “technical candidate” directly depends on his authority, professional competence, oratory ability, and sometimes even the right surname and name. “Technical candidates” are divided into public ones who spend more resources, and non-public ones. Public candidates take an active part in the election process and comment on events for the media and television. Non-public candidates do not run campaigns, but act as background silent players used to strengthen positions in election commissions.

Depending on geography, goals and objectives, the average budget for 1 technical candidate is at least USD 1 million. This amount is enough to cover the candidate’s fee, certain expenses for the functioning of election headquarters, payment for outdoor advertising and printed products, as well as remuneration for observers and members of election commissions. Therefore, there is a paradoxical situation in the regions, where the citizen formally represents technical candidate A, but agitates and defends interests of the candidate B.

Main functions and motives of “technical candidates” in the electoral process

  1. Legalized black PR and opponents’ defamation. From the moment of registration in the CEC, “technical candidate” may conduct an election campaign, criticize and discredit the opponent’s program, use external advertising, participate in debates, etc. Typically, “technical candidates” attack their opponents and bring the electoral process to the absurd.
  2. Distortion of competitors’ votes. “Technical candidates” are spoilers who blur the electorate of opponents due to the diverse use of political technology techniques. As a result, the inattentive voter makes mistakes during the election. “Technical candidates” may use similar surnames, speculate on the strengths and weaknesses of the professional background or psychotype of the political opponent. According to various estimates, opponents may lose from 3 to 5% of the votes due to these instruments.
  3. 3. Creation of majority in the election commissions at all levels. A controlled majority is formed in election commissions with the help of representatives of “technical candidates”. This allows making the necessary decisions, resolving disputes in someone’s favour during voting or counting the votes. “Technical candidates” may also work for both lowering and increasing voter turnout (g. members of polling station election commissions may issue ballots very slowly, artificially create queues, etc.
  4. Use of legal instruments in political competition. Election headquarters of “technical candidates” may write endless complaints on violations in agitation to the police and district election commissions, sue the headquarters of competitors. Legal and judicial struggle takes resources and creates a lot of inconvenience for the main candidate, against whom the “technical candidates” work. Judicial litigation may also carry a lot of risks for the establishment and recognition of election results.

In most cases, “technical candidates” agree to work for financial rewards, opportunity to get positions in the power structures or a mandate in the Parliament. Individual candidates participate in elections to receive immunity from law enforcement agencies for the time of the election campaign. Some self-sufficient candidates take part in elections for the sake of political fame and satisfaction of their own political ambitions.

Map of “technical candidates” for the presidency


Technical candidates of Petro Poroshenko: Olha Bohomolets, Yulia Lytvynenko, Yuriy Tymoshenko, Viktor Kryvenko, Arkadiy Kornatskyi, Roman Nasirov, Volodymyr Petrov, Oleh Yaroshevych, Vasyl Zhuravlov, Yuriy Karmazin, Ruslan Ryhovanov, Oleksandr Vashchenko, Serhiy Nosenko, Serhiy Kryvonos, Oleksandr Moroz.

Friendly candidates to Petro Poroshenko: Ruslan Koshulynskyi.

Technical candidates of Yulia Tymoshenko: Mykola Haber, Oleksandr Danyliuk, Andriy Novak.

Friendly candidates to Yulia Tymoshenko: Serhiy Taruta, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, Vitaliy Skotsyk

Friendly candidates of Anatoliy Grytsenko: Andriy Sadovyi, Dmytro Hnap, Dmytro Dobrodomov, Roman Bezsmertnyi, Yuriy Derevianko.

Sponsor Olexandr Onyshchenko: technical candidate Ihor Shevchenko (attacks Petro Poroshenko)

Sponsor Arsen Avakov: technical candidate Illia Kyva (attacks Petro Poroshenko)

Sponsor Ihor Kolomoiskyi: Oleksandr Shevchenko, Vitaliy Kupriy, Viktor Bondar (attack Petro Poroshenko)

Sponsor Dmytro Firtash: technical candidates Serhiy Kaplin and Inna Bohoslovska (attack Yulia Tymoshenko)

Sponsor Viktor Medvedchuk: technical candidate Ihor Smieshko (attacks Anatoliy Grytsenko)

Sponsor Rinat Akhmetov: technical candidate Yevgeniy Murayev (attacks Yuriy Boyko)