Ukrainian politician Petro Poroshenko (R) meets with people in Independence Square in central Kiev March 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Maks Levin)
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Gone is the trademark peasant-style hair braid, though the familiar voice and the assured, rapid-fire delivery tell you Yulia Tymoshenko is back as a political force in Ukraine.Ukraine's new leadership hopes the vote will unite a divided country amid growing pressure from Russia, which is hostile to its political changes.Poroshenko, whose chain of confectionery shops puts him in Ukraine's top 10 rich list, received a huge boost at the weekend when popular boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko pulled out of the race and endorsed him for the presidency.Even before Klitschko bowed out Saturday, Poroshenko, a beefy man with a thick shock of grey hair, was well ahead in ratings. As he held 25 percent, Klitschko had 9 percent and Tymoshenko trailed with 8.3 percent.Tymoshenko's years in prison under Yanukovich and the almost iconic status she enjoys among followers in west and central Ukraine seemed initially to guarantee her political comeback.She received a muted response from the Maidan when she was brought there in a wheelchair shortly after her release from detention in February, however.She was the victim of a swing against her and other established figures of a discredited Ukrainian political class.
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