Ukraine votes for a president on Sunday in an election marked by widespread disillusionment among ordinary people but one which will prove crucial to its relations with Russia and its place in Europe.
It is the first presidential election in the former Soviet republic of 46 million people since mass street protests in 2004, called the “Orange Revolution,” broke the grip on power of a sleazy post-Soviet leadership.
Two candidates from a field of 18 have emerged as the front-runners in Sunday’s vote: Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich, the eastern Ukrainian party boss who was the Kremlin’s preferred candidate in 2004. But even this has not led to a straightforward match-up.
Neither candidate seems to have the necessary 50 percent to win in the first round — Yanukovich is predicted to win just over 30 percent of the vote, while Tymoshenko is trailing in most polls with about 20 percent.