The parliamentary faction Party of Regions also officially announced its presidential candidate on Saturday.
Members of Ukraine’s former ruling party will back Mykhailo Dobkin, a pro-Russian businessman and former governor of Kharkiv, the scene of recent protests in the east of the country.
Speaking in Russian, Dobkin said:
“I’m running to get into power. But I will put this power into the regions. I will invest as much of it as necessary in the successful development of the territories. And I know how important it is to have power in the regions. I know it myself, I have been begging for money for eight years in the finance ministry and in many other big and important offices.”
Dobkin recently called for the Ukrainian capital to be moved from Kyiv to Kharkiv, and for Ukraine to adopt a federal structure of government.
In March 2014, he was arrested on charges of leading a separatist movement. The charges were made shortly after the former governor of Kharkiv reportedly participated in a meeting of local officials intent on questioning the legality of the new Ukrainian government.