Copyright © 2021

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Ukraine’s heated presidential campaign most expensive ever

A woman submits her vote at a polling station in Ukraine. Photo:
Ukraine’s heated presidential campaign most expensive ever
Article by: Sofia Kochmar-Tymoshenko
Edited by: Vidan Clube
The latest poll ranked political satirist and actor Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the leader in the presidential race – he is supported by 24.9% of those who will go vote on election day, 31 March. According to the new poll by Rating sociological group published on March 11, former prime-minister Yulia Tymoshenko overtook Petro Poroshenko (18.8% vs 17.4%). Yuriy Boiko is number four (10.2%). After Andriy Sadovyi and Dmytro Hnap withdrew in favor of Hrytsenko, his rating increased to 9.4%, but he is still in fifth place. Meanwhile, Ukrainian journalists calculated campaign expenditures of all the candidates. Overall this campaign already can be called the most expensive one in Ukraine’s history.

A record amount of over 2.3 bn UAH ($85 mn) has been allocated from the state budget for financing the 2019 election of the President of Ukraine.

This is 20% more than in 2014, the presidential election which took place immediately after the Euromaidan Revolution, and almost two and half times more than the cost of the last parliamentary election in 2014.

Election funds

This year, a record number of candidates announced their presidential ambitions. The Central election commission (CEC) registered 44 candidates. As of 18 March, six of them had withdrawn from the race.

According to the Ukrainian election law, each of the candidates is required to make a UAH 2.5mn ($92,000) pledge, which will be returned only to those who make it to the second round.

Officially, the candidates’ election campaign is financed from special election funds, data on which the candidates should open up to the National Agency of Corruption Prevention (NAZK). However, according to the CEC, three candidates still did not reveal their data. And those who did cannot always explain where they got the money and why their campaign is much more expensive than the official data says.

The law does not limit the amount of money in the elections fund of a candidate. Usually, candidates use it to pay for advertising on TV.

However, analysts of the electoral watchdog Chesno say that TV advertising started long before the official election period did – and the origin of the money used is under question.

Expensive TV

As most Ukrainians get their information from TV, reaching the blue box is essential for presidential candidates. Photo:

Prices for political ads on Ukrainian TV channels are open information.

At the start of the election campaign, TV Channel Ukrayina had the most expensive ads. During prime time, they cost UAH 5,658 ($200) per second.

TV Channel 1+1, which is close to Ihor Kolomoiskyi, will take 1050 UAH ($39) for each second of political ad broadcast from 20:00 to 23:00.

On the Novyi Kanal, one second of advertising in the same time period will cost 872 UAH ($32) on Sunday and 496 UAH ($18) during the week.

After monitoring TV channels, Chesno analysts estimated the money which candidates spent on advertising in 2018. In total, all the candidates spent UAH 568mn ($20.9 mn) in 2018.

Incumbent President Poroshenko spent the most – UAH 175mn ($6.5 mn). This is 31% of the overall total. The Presidential Administration reported last year that Poroshenko himself paid for broadcasting the ads himself and will report about these expenses in his next annual declaration.

Yuliya Tymoshenko is in second place: her TV advertisement cost UAH 126.8mn ($4.7mn) Her Batkivshchyna party reported a similar amount; they claimed to have spent UAH 120mn ($4.4mn) on TV advertising during 2018.

Candidate Oleksandr Shevchenko is in third place; he spent about UAH 86.4mn ($3.2mn) on TV ads during last year.

Multi-millionaire and leader of the Osnova political party Serhiy Taruta spent UAH 64.4 mn ($2.4mn) on TV ads and Oleh Liashko, leader of Radical party spend UAH 46.7mn ($1.7mn).

But apart from political ads on TV, candidates also use hidden political advertising termed as “jeansa” in the Ukrainian media. The “95 Kvartal” humor show starring presidential candidate Zelenskyy, which continues to be aired and will be broadcast even on election day, is one example. The three-part documentary ooh-ing over Petro Poroshenko’s projects on TV channel Ukrayina is another.

As well, black PR in social media, especially in Facebook, constitutes another hidden cost of the campaigns. Popular Facebook groups were created to smear candidates, says the Сommittee of voters of Ukraine. They also warn not to trust every poll you see, as some of them were probably commissioned.


“We are Ukraine. The Army protects our land, language protects our heart, faith protects our heart. Petro Poroshenko.” These billboards were seen all over Ukraine long before the presidential campaign started

Political advertising on the streets of Ukrainians cities appeared long before the candidates even announced their political ambitions. Petro Poroshenko littered the whole country with billboards celebrating the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is at the heart of his election campaign slogan “Army! Language! Faith!” Meanwhile, billboards advertising the comedy series “President is the Servant of the People” featuring actor, and now presidential candidate Zelenskyy were also seen by many as hidden political advertising.

Sofia Kochmar-Tymoshenko is a journalist based in Kyiv. In 2014, Sofia started working as a TV-journalist and fixer for international media. Her professional interest is religious freedom and human rights.


Read also:

Edited by: Vidan Clube
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Related Posts