Last Friday, PM Yulia Tymoshenko answered questions from journalists and other political analysts for over three hours on the flashy 'Shuster-Live' television programme.
Watch it all here.
President Yushchenko and PoR leader Viktor Yanukovych had been invited to take part but had declined to attend, thus providing Tymoshenko over three hours of almost unchallenged TV prime time - political gold dust in anyone's language - which she took full advantage of in her usual masterful manner.
Most voters receive most information on politicians via television - the most important mass media by far. It could even be said, "If you're no good on TV don't even think about going into politics."
It is unmaginable that the owners of the tv channel on which Shuster's programs are broadcast, major backers of PoR, are not aware of this. Any broadcast by the prime minister attracts a large audience and hence generates large advertising revenues - perhaps one reason why the program was allowed to run without the president and leader of the opposition attending. Most of the questioning was 'soft-ball' and easily dealt with by the PM - some journalists even declaring their investigations had confirmed the PM's allegations that Viktor Yanukovych's Mezhehirya dacha had been dishonestly appropriated - but it did not, however, appear that any of the questions were 'planted'.
Yanukovych has declared recently that because Tymshenko is an artist, and he will not compete, or debate with her on tv.
In an excellent in-depth analytical article in 'Lyeviy Bereg' its authors suggest the 'most optimistic' result for the first round of the January 17th presidential election would be a small lead for Yanukovych over Tymoshenko. [His current lead in current OP's is significant]. According to the article a large lead, say over 8% after the first round of voting could plunge the country into a very nasty campaign - outpouring of 'kompromat', challenges to the result etc. akin to 2004. Could this is the thinking behind 'Ukraina' television's decision to run the Shuster program?
The article presents two scenarios for a possible Yanukovych presidency, and three scenarios for a Tymoshenko presidency; it has nine most interesting conclusions which I may summarise later, time permitting.