- Title: UKRAINE: Ukrainians set to vote for new president amid turmoil
- Date: 21st May 2014
- Summary: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3 KIEV, UKRAINE (MAY 21, 2014) (REUTERS) UKRAINIAN FLAG ACROSS A BUILDING BARRICADE AT MAIDAN, THE INDEPENDENCE SQUARE TENTS AT MAIDAN PROTESTERS WALKING PAST TENTS VARIOUS OF ELECTION POSTERS MEN ON A FORKLIFT PUTTING UP UKRAINIAN NATIONAL SYMBOL OVER STREET TENTS AT MAIDAN (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VOTER FROM KRYVYI RIH, VICTOR, SAYING: "We will go and vote, no doubt about that. We want to follow the message coming from the people here that we have had enough of being on our knees that we have to regain our dignity. We will all vote." EUROPEAN UNION FLAG (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VOTER, OLGA, SAYING: "We want changes at last, because our country is not poor, it has been robbed and beggared but it is a beautiful and rich country, all we need is a decent president who will rebuild it." MEN GATHERED BY PILE OF TYRES (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VOTER, KATYA, SAYING: "I am from Slaviansk, Donetsk region, just visiting Kiev. Although we have been forbidden to vote in our town, my family and I hope to travel to the Kharkov region and we will vote there. I hope that Poroshenko, who is rich, will not steal from the state, from the people."
- Embargoed: 5th June 2014 13:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA2XFB73ZPWX9IRMIJWUICV5MY6
- Story Text: Ukrainians are set to vote in a presidential election on Sunday (May 25) which the country's struggling pro-Western interim authorities see as a vital step in restoring stability and legitimising the country's new political order.
After uncertainty and five months of upheaval that has included violent street protests, the ousting of Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovich, Russia's annexation of Crimea and pro-Russian separatist rebellions in the east of the country, many Ukrainians hope the election will be a new start.
"We will go and vote, no doubt about that. We want to follow the message coming from the people here that we have had enough of being on our knees that we have to regain our dignity. We will all vote," said Victor from Kryvyi Rih who travelled to Kiev to show his son Dima the protest camp at Maidan, or Independence Square, which is seen as the cradle of Ukraine's revolution.
"We want changes at last, because our country is not poor, it has been robbed and beggared but it is a beautiful and rich country, all we need is a decent president who will rebuild it," said Olga, an interior design student from Kiev.
Katya and her parents, who came to Kiev from the separatist held town of Slaviansk, were equally determined to cast their votes.
"I am from Slaviansk, Donetsk region, just visiting Kiev. Although we have been forbidden to vote in our town, my family and I hope to travel to the Kharkov region and we will vote there. I hope that Poroshenko, who is rich, will not steal from the state, from the people," she said.
The latest opinion poll by three sociological institutes published on Tuesday (May 20) showed confectionery magnate Petro Poroshenko is on track to win the first round of voting.
Poroshenko, who supported the pro-European uprising which ousted Yanukovich in February, would get support from 53.2 percent of voters, said the survey.
He is known as the 'chocolate king' because of his string of confectionery retail outlets, and has vowed to make restoring law and order a priority if he wins.
Poroshenko served as foreign minister and economy minister in previous administrations, including under Yanukovich.
The poll puts Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister, in a distant second place for Sunday's vote with just 10.1 percent support - humiliating for a woman whose trademark peasant's hair braid and rhetoric have defined Ukrainian politics for a decade.
Tymoshenko remains Ukraine's most eloquent and recognisable politician and she likes to stress her experience. But at a time of yearning for change that may prove a handicap, not an asset. Many say the former premier is too divisive and tainted by the past.
This view is borne out on the streets of Kiev.
"Her time has passed, she has shown herself from different sides and all are tired with her. Events have shown that people want fresh blood, something new," said Roman Chuvilno, an IT product manager from Kiev.
But Tymoshenko supporters, who insist the polls are wrong, say it would be rash to write off a woman whose ambition and self-belief appear undimmed by health problems and a jail sentence that ended in February.
"I will vote for Tymoshenko, just like I did before," Nikolay, a Kiev voter said.
The poll shows banker Serhiy Tigipko in third place on 8.8 percent.
Tigipko is strongest in the mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine where separatists, who have set up checkpoints and barricades in major towns, have indicated they will do all they can to prevent the election taking place.
But Natalya Kharchenko, Director of Kiev International Institute of Sociology, one of the three agencies which conducted the poll, said that despite the threat of disruption it will be eastern Ukraine that determines whether there will be second round of voting.
"It is up to Donetsk and Luhansk whether there will be one round. They will decide about that. Up until now, in many previous elections they decided who got elected to be our president, this time they have no ability to do it but the turnout in the eastern region will decide whether Poroshenko will be elected in the first or in the second round, even if it comes to the second round he is far ahead," she said.
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent in the first round of voting on May 25, there will be a run-off vote between the two leading contenders on June 15.
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