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Ukraine Voters Disillusioned with Orange Revolution

Friday, 15 Jan 2010 10:03 AM

KIEV — Ukraine's presidential election candidates Friday made a final effort to appeal to voters deeply disillusioned with the Orange Revolution on the last day of campaigning.

Opinion polls show pro-Russian opposition politician Viktor Yanukovich -- the defeated candidate in 2004 when the Orange Revolution street protests forced a re-run of rigged polls -- well ahead in first place.

Yanukovich, a dour ex-mechanic once jailed for theft, hopes to win Sunday's election outright but it is almost certain that he will fail to win a majority and that the poll will go to a second round on February 7.

He is expected to be joined in a run-off by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, famed for her traditional golden hair braid, whom analysts believe still has time to make up the difference over the next three weeks.

President Viktor Yushchenko, the figurehead of the Orange Revolution who championed EU and NATO membership for Ukraine, is expected to be punished for the Revolution's failures and be eliminated in the first round.

"I think that the intrigue is not yet over," Volodymyr Fesenko, director of the Penta centre for political studies in Kiev, told AFP.

"I think Tymoshenko has chances to win if she succeeds in mobilizing post-Orange voters wanting European integration and wins voters from the defeated candidates."

Yanukovich is to hold a rally billed as a "celebration gala concert" in central Kiev at 1700 GMT with Ukrainian glamour pop singers Taisia Povaliy and Svetlana Loboda, before a ban on campaigning enters into force on Saturday.

Tymoshenko meanwhile will want to ensure her second-place standing is not endangered by a late surge from a third-place candidate, businessman Sergiy Tigipko, who appears to have made gains over the last weeks.

The election race between a total of 18 candidates is overshadowed by huge public disappointment with the Orange Revolution, which despite ousting the old elite failed to bring about major reform or end corruption.

Yushchenko fell out spectacularly with his former Orange ally Tymoshenko and has spent most of campaign seeking to destroy her character, to the delight of Yanukovich strategists.

The president, criticised for concentrating on grandiose historical issues rather than reform, spent the last campaign day presenting a book entitled "To the Nation" which compiled the main speeches of his term.

During the book presentation he took a parting shot at Tymoshenko, accusing her of destroying the country, and declared: "I am not a politician. I would prefer to be called a statesman."

Yanukovich meanwhile denied in a late night television appearance that he had ever been given orders by the Kremlin. But he also said any provocative moves in relations with Moscow must be avoided.

"This is not a joke, or a toy. These are two enormous countries who are hugely dependent on each other in many aspects," he said.

Yanukovich draws his strongest support in the industrial and largely Russian speaking east of Ukraine, whereas Tymoshenko's heartland is the more agricultural west where the Ukrainian language predominates.

As a final card, Tymoshenko could raise Yanukovich's convictions and jail sentences in 1967 and 1970 for theft and assault, which were both erased by the courts in December 1978.

One of the stranger contenders is Vasyl Gumeniuk, a local politician from western Ukraine who registered his candidacy after changing his surname to Protyvsikh -- or "Against All" in Ukrainian.

In another case of election cynicism, a website entitled prodaygolos.com.ua (sellyourvote.com) emerged ahead of the polls allowing Ukrainians the chance to auction off their vote.

After it caused something of a scandal, however, visitors are now being told the mysterious site is closed.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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KIEV — Ukraine's presidential election candidates Friday made a final effort to appeal to voters deeply disillusioned with the Orange Revolution on the last day of campaigning.
Ukraine,voters,unhappy,revolution
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2010-03-15
Friday, 15 Jan 2010 10:03 AM
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