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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora