Ukrainians go to the polls today to choose a new president.
There are 24 candidates vying for the top job. But it is expected that Prime Minster Viktor Yanukovich and former premier Viktor Yushenko will go head to head in a second round next month. There are 37 million eligible voters in Ukraine. It has been a tight and bitter contest with both main contenders accusing the other of cheating and of trying to subvert the vote. Yanukovich is backed by Ukraine’s establishment and is an advocate of further integration with Moscow. In what some have perceived as an attempt to curry favour with the electorate, the leader just recently raised public sector pay and pensions. Viktor Yushenko has accused his poltical rival of trying to twice kill him and,amid fears for the safety of his family, he has moved them to a secret location. The Western-leaning politician has urged his voters to gather around polling stations during the election. The rivals are neck and neck in the polls. Observers say the outcome of the vote will determine whether the ex-Soviet state intensifies traditional links with Moscow or begins looking towards the West.