KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko enjoys a strong lead over ex-world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko ahead of the crisis-hit country's presidential election in May, according to an opinion poll published Wednesday.
Poroshenko was backed by almost 25% of respondents against 9% for Klitschko and just over 8% for ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, according to the survey conducted by a mix of think-tanks and research groups.
The owner of the Roshen confectionary giant, Poroshenko has yet to announce his candidacy for the May 25 election, along with Tymoshenko. They have until Sunday to do so.
But regardless of who Poroshenko might face in a run-off, almost 24% of the 6,200 respondents questioned for the survey earlier this month expect him to sail to victory.
The former economy minister helped to finance the pro-Europe protests that led to pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych's ouster and escape to Russia last month.
Yanukovych's deputy Sergiy Tigipko was backed by just over 7% of respondents, while over 4% supported Mykhailo Dobkin, the ex-governor of the ethnic Russian-dominated eastern city of Kharkiv.
Poroshenko is estimated to have a $2-billion (1.4 billion-euro) fortune, making him one of the 10 richest men in Ukraine.
Like many oligarchs, he made his money on the ruins of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.
The towering 48-year-old started out selling cocoa beans, buying up several confectionery plants which he later united into Roshen.
He also owns a company that makes minibuses.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014