Ukrainians to choose a new president

Ukrainians are going to the polls to choose a new president after a bitter election campaign with the two contenders accusing each other of plotting to rig the vote.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has accused her opponent of ensuring her aides are unable to oversee votes cast in the eastern sector of the country where her support is weakest.

Tymoshenko has also threatened to call for protests in a replay of the 2004 “Orange Revolution” if she deems the vote to have been unfair.

The candidate she has to beat is Viktor Yanukovich. Polls suggest he may win but only just, prompting fears this ballot may fail to restore much needed stability to the country.

The euphoria of 2004 when protests overturned the rigged results that gave Yanukovich victory has disappeared after years of political infighting that has paralysed parliamentary policy making.

Ukraine’s outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko is paying the price of five years of ineffectual leadership. He was once a hero of the 2004 revolution unseating Yanukovich whose election victory was ruled invalid.

Today’s poll has not been without incident. A group of scantily clad female political activists burst into a Kiev polling station carrying banners denouncing both candidates and shouting slogans, accusing them of buying votes.

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