News / Europe

Ukraine's Poroshenko Seeks First Round Poll Win, Says Stability at Stake

Ukrainian businessman, politician and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko (L) meets his supporters during his election rally in the city of Kryvyi Rih May 17, 2014.
Ukrainian businessman, politician and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko (L) meets his supporters during his election rally in the city of Kryvyi Rih May 17, 2014.
Reuters
The man tipped to win Ukraine's presidential election, Petro Poroshenko, appealed to voters on Wednesday to hand him victory outright in Sunday's first round of voting or face a risk of “destabilization” that might prevent a second-round runoff.
 
Opinion polls make Poroshenko, a confectionery magnate, the runaway favorite to win the election, which Kyiv's interim leaders say is vital to restore stability in a country facing Russian hostility and a separatist revolt in its eastern region.
 
Billed as Ukraine's most important election since it became independent of Moscow in 1991, it was called after street protests toppled Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych in February. He fled to Russia, which then seized Ukraine's Crimea and inspired separatist revolts in Russian-speaking eastern towns.
 
Poroshenko, 48, known as the “chocolate king” because of his business interests, could win more than the 50 percent of votes needed on Sunday to win outright and avoid a second round on June 15 - a scenario he said would be best for stability.
Petro Poroshenko (R) accepts a gift from supporters during his election campaign in Odessa May 21, 2014.Petro Poroshenko (R) accepts a gift from supporters during his election campaign in Odessa May 21, 2014.
x
Petro Poroshenko (R) accepts a gift from supporters during his election campaign in Odessa May 21, 2014.
Petro Poroshenko (R) accepts a gift from supporters during his election campaign in Odessa May 21, 2014.
 

“Today, let us be realistic: if the election is not over in the first round, the second round might not take place. The level of destabilization might be such that we will have to fight for legitimacy,” he said during a visit to the Black Sea port of Odessa, according to Interfax news agency.
 
Poroshenko appeared to be suggesting that further pressure from Russia, which has had tens of thousands of troops massed near the border with Ukraine, or a surge in action by the pro-Russia separatists who control key towns and buildings in the east, could derail the election.
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has condemned the overthrow of Yanukovych as a coup, continued to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Ukraine's election on Wednesday. He said during a state visit to China that it would be more logical for Kyiv to hold the vote after a referendum on a new constitution.
 
“It will be very hard for us to build relations with people who come to power against the backdrop of a continuing punitive operation in southern and southeastern Ukraine,” Putin said, referring to anti-separatist military operations by Kyiv's forces.
 
High turnout seen
 
Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a dominant figure in Ukrainian politics for over a decade but whose star has faded amid the turmoil and after a jail sentence, trails well behind Poroshenko in second place in the opinion polls.
Former Ukrainian prime minister and current presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko (R) meets supporters during her election campaign in the city of Konotop May 21, 2014. Campaigning for Ukraine's presidential election, Tymoshenko says she alone can saveFormer Ukrainian prime minister and current presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko (R) meets supporters during her election campaign in the city of Konotop May 21, 2014. Campaigning for Ukraine's presidential election, Tymoshenko says she alone can save
x
Former Ukrainian prime minister and current presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko (R) meets supporters during her election campaign in the city of Konotop May 21, 2014. Campaigning for Ukraine's presidential election, Tymoshenko says she alone can save
Former Ukrainian prime minister and current presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko (R) meets supporters during her election campaign in the city of Konotop May 21, 2014. Campaigning for Ukraine's presidential election, Tymoshenko says she alone can save
 

With emotions still high after months of upheaval in which dozens of anti-Yanukovych protesters were shot dead by police, Ukraine looks set to record one of its biggest election turnouts ever, despite the loss of Crimea and the separatists' determination to prevent voting in the towns they hold.
 
The Committee for Voters of Ukraine, a watchdog body, expected a turnout of at least 70 percent and possibly as high as 80 percent - which would be significantly more than the 69 percent registered in the run-off vote in 2010 which brought Yanukovych to power at the expense of Tymoshenko.
 
“Today 60 percent of Ukrainians declare that they will definitely vote and approximately 20 percent more say that they are likely to take part... We predict no less than 70 percent of citizens will take part,” said Oleksander Chernenko, president of the Committee for Voters of Ukraine.
 
Turnout was expected to be particularly high in the capital and in the nationalist-minded western regions, he added.
 
Election officials in the eastern industrial hub of Donetsk, where separatists have declared an independent “people's republic,” said this week that harassment and intimidation had forced them to close down the five electoral commission bodies in the city of one million.
 
However, some residents of Donetsk and of nearby Luhansk are expected to travel outside their regions to cast their ballot on Sunday. The two regions have a combined electorate of 5.1 million in a country with a total voter base of 35.5 million.
 
Authorities have also provided for Ukrainians and members of the Turkic-speaking Tatar minority on the Crimean peninsula, seized by Russia in March, to vote elsewhere in the country.
 
Ironically, frontrunner Poroshenko will be helped by the boycott in the east, which is not where he draws most support. The boycott will mainly hit two of his opponents, businessman Mykhailo Dobkin and banker-politician Serhiy Tihipko.
 
About 1,000 election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are fanning out around the ex-Soviet republic of 46 million people for Sunday's poll.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs