Last week Ukraine held its first pres­i­den­tial elec­tion since the vio­lent rev­o­lu­tion there ear­lier this year, and Mitchell Oren­stein, pro­fessor and chair of the Depart­ment of Polit­ical Sci­ence at North­eastern, was on the ground to wit­ness part of the his­toric vote.

Oren­stein spent his time in the city of Lviv, located in the western part of the country. There he attended a cam­paign event for Petro Poroshenko, a Ukrainian bil­lion­aire who won the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on May 25 with 54 per­cent of the vote.

This was a per­sonal research trip,” said Oren­stein, who also trav­eled to Vienna, Budapest, and Switzer­land. “I talked to a lot of people about pol­i­tics, and it gave me a good per­spec­tive from a part of the country I have never vis­ited before.”

After the rev­o­lu­tion ear­lier this year, in which vio­lent protests led to pre­vious pres­i­dent Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster from office for his pro-​​Russian sen­ti­ments, Oren­stein said Ukrainians are expressing an even stronger desire to align with the Euro­pean Union.

About 70 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion sup­ported pro-​​European Union can­di­dates,” including Poroshenko and the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion runner-​​up, Oren­stein said in an inter­view last week after returning from Ukraine.

Oren­stein is a scholar of inter­na­tional pol­i­tics whose research lies at the inter­sec­tion of com­par­a­tive pol­i­tics, inter­na­tional polit­ical economy, and global public policy. He has closely fol­lowed the polit­ical land­scape in Ukraine, deliv­ering a campus lec­ture in Feb­ruary about the events leading up to the rev­o­lu­tion and its impact from a geopo­lit­ical standpoint.

While in Ukraine, Oren­stein wit­nessed other exam­ples of the region working toward greater acces­si­bility to the Euro­pean Union. For example, he saw offi­cials meeting in the mayor’s office to dis­cuss ways to make it easier to travel by train between from Lviv to Krakow, Poland.

Oren­stein also noted with interest that the newly elected president’s top pri­ority was to defeat the vio­lent sep­a­ratists in small areas of the eastern part of the country, which he com­mu­ni­cated to the people attending the Poroshenko cam­paign event. The pres­i­dent, he said, also empha­sized indi­vidual responsibility.

He didn’t promise jobs or an easier life,” Oren­stein said. “He told people they need to live in a new way by breaking the cul­ture of stealing and corruption.”

Though it was held more than 4,000 miles from the U.S., Oren­stein observed that the cam­paign event was sim­ilar to those in the U.S., mostly because Amer­ican polit­ical con­sul­tants have run the campaigns.

There is no dif­fer­ence between cam­paigns in the U.S. and Ukraine,” Oren­stein said. “I spoke with a guy from New Eng­land who was run­ning Poroshenko’s cam­paign. There were big posters, video screens, music, and exten­sive cam­paign flyers.”