Sustained economic growth, energy security and, most importantly, a victory over poverty - this is what prominent businessman and rising politician Rinat Akhmetov will be fighting for. He presented his vision of Ukraine's future at a meeting with voters on 19 February. His address caused lively discussion by the media and the public, BBC Monitoring Service reported referring to TRC Ukraina informed. Here are a few excerpts.

[Correspondent] This was Rinat Akhmetov's first public appearance as a politician. This was also his first appearance before voters rather than football fans (Akhmetov owns Shakhtar Donetsk football club - edit.)

He was a bit nervous and said it was easier for him to talk about sport. This is why the speech he made as parliament candidate was in a sporting spirit. Rinat Akhmetov has a new goal - that Ukraine becomes Europe's champion in terms of wages, quality of living and infrastructure.

[Akhmetov, in Russian] I am taking up politics because I want a government of economic growth to be formed. I am taking up politics to defend Ukraine's national interests [applause]. I am taking up politics because I want Ukraine to become rich. I am taking up politics because I want there to be no poor people in Ukraine. I am taking up politics because I want Ukraine to win the best European country cup.

[Correspondent] As a successful businessman, he understands that Europe is not ready to receive us with outstretched arms and that we should not be in a rush to get there on an empty stomach. If Akhmetov's plans are implemented, Europe will meet Ukraine as an equal partner in about 10-15 years. But this is a long-term prospect. Rinat Akhmetov's meeting with voters was about an hour-and-a-half long. Questions covered such diverse topics as his private life and what an oligarch should be doing in politics.

[Akhmetov, in Russian] First of all, I am not an oligarch. Oligarchs are in government. For them, being in government is the only way of making money. I can tell an oligarch from afar. They wear a special sort of clothes. In their trousers, pockets start up here [points to his hip] and reach all the way down there [points to his feet].

Oligarchs have not found their place in business, and they never will. I am telling you, in business, they look like cows walking on ice. I realized myself as a businessman and made my money a long time ago. [Passage omitted: Correspondent quotes Akhmetov as pledging to fight poverty.]

[Donetsk-based tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, reportedly the richest man in Ukraine, is running for parliament in the 19 March general elections on the ticket of the opposition Party of Regions. Ukrayina TV is believed to be controlled by Akhmetov.]


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