News / Europe

Frustrations Grow as Ukranians Ready for Presidential Vote

A pro-Russian fighter takes a photo on his cell phone of a burning cafe after impact of a mortar bomb, during fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian militants at a checkpoint near the major highway which links Kharkiv, outside Slovya
A pro-Russian fighter takes a photo on his cell phone of a burning cafe after impact of a mortar bomb, during fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian militants at a checkpoint near the major highway which links Kharkiv, outside Slovya
As Ukrainians brace themselves for Sunday’s presidential election, frustrations are growing.
 
At least 21 have been killed since Thursday in escalating violence in east Ukraine.
 
And there are fears that the election may not mark the end of the months-long Ukraine crisis but the start of just another stage in the conflict.
 
Odessa-native and activist Lisa Smith – she kept the family name of an ex-American husband – said she is frightened.
 
“I am very worried that a war will start,” she said, speaking just yards from where she was on February 20 when more than 50 protesters of the old government were gunned down by snipers.
 
The 23-year-old documentary-maker said she still hasn’t recovered from the turmoil and bloodshed she witnessed in Kyiv’s Independence Square, or Maiden, during the weeks-long effort to topple ex-President Viktor Yanukovych.
 
And she frets that nothing might change after the election.
 
“My other big fear is that the person who gets elected will be the same as our last president – a person who steals everything from the country,” she said. “I think we need reform in every ministry.”
 
Voters ready


Ukrainians appear eager to vote and replace an interim government that is widely unpopular and seen by many in the east and south as illegitimate.
 
Pollsters expect at least a 70 percent turnout.
 
The latest opinion survey this week suggests that election-front-runner Petro Poroshenko, a pro-Western billionaire nicknamed the “chocolate king” for his candy empire, is widening his lead over second-placed Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister.
 
The poll shows Poroshenko getting 44 per cent support among those planning to vote and Tymoshenko just 8 per cent.
 
Polling data is prompting media commentators to wonder if the businessman and former minister will secure 50 percent of the vote on Sunday, making a second round next month unnecessary.
 
Tymoshenko is seen as a throwback to a graft-filled past that Maiden activists want to leave behind.
 
“The Yanukovych regime was an alliance of corrupt politicians and oligarchs,” said Vadim Baranski, an advertising executive, who took time off work to protest through the winter at Maiden.
 
Taking coffee in a café in Pushkinskaya Street in central Kyiv, the 32-year-old looks up at the warm spring sun and smiles ruefully at the cold he endured in mid-winter on the barricades in the Maiden. He said he doesn’t want that struggle to be wasted and remains suspicious of the “chocolate king.”
 
“Poroshenko might not be too bad but Kyiv has turned to oligarchs to help them against the eastern separatists,” he said, referring among others to Ukraine’s richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, the coal and steel magnate. Akhmetov last week threw his weight behind the pro-unity cause and urged his workers in east Ukraine to see off separatists.
 
Continuing corruption remains the biggest fear of voters.
 
In an opinion poll conducted for the U.S. non-profit the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in May, those surveyed were highly pessimistic that the engrained graft linking politics and business could be overcome.
 
Fifty-six percent said most Ukrainians looked at corruption as a fact of life in the country and more than 90 percent said they have had to pay a bribe to the police and the courts.

Keen for change

For the young in Kyiv as they prepare for the polls, there is a determination not to let the Maiden sacrifices be in vain. They want new faces.
 
Activists have been campaigning for long-shot candidate physician Olga Bogomolets, who was nicknamed the “White Angel” during the uprising because of her role treating injured protesters.
 
But the blond-haired doctor will likely be an also-ran when the count comes in.
 
With Poroshenko having served in governments before, his practical skills are what appear to be driving his surge in the opinion polls.
 
For some, he is at least a fresher face than Tymoshenko.
 
If the confectionary magnate doesn’t want to face a Maiden backlash, if elected he will have to move fast on reforms, starting with the police and the judges.
 
“The police who were shooting us and beating us at Maiden are still working,” activist Smith said. “They understand that if reform comes, they will end up in prison and they will try with the old politicians to stop change.”

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid