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Ukrainians Vote in Key Presidential Re-Run


Polls have opened in Ukraine where, for the third time in as many months, voters are casting ballots for a new president to replace outgoing President Leonid Kuchma. The candidates remain the same, but their political fortunes have reversed.

Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko is the front-runner heading into Sunday's re-run presidential election, after leading the massive street protests against what he said was a rigged second-round run-off.

His rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, was earlier declared the winner of that round - a win that was later annulled by Ukraine's Supreme Court in a surprise ruling that opened the way for Sunday's vote.

Each camp accuses the other of trying to manipulate the poll and there are still concerns that the losing party might not accept the results.

Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma says the recent electoral stand-off, which brought the country to a virtual halt for weeks, highlights the need for a better balance of political power in Ukraine.

The United States and Europe are watching the election with keen interest for possible signs of Ukraine's future political course, as is Ukraine's biggest neighbor, Russia.

First results of the presidential re-run are not expected for several days.

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