The Ukrainian prime minister appears to be the underdog for Sunday’s rerun of the country’s presidential election, with polls giving him just 37 percent support. But Viktor Yanukovich still considers himself the favourite. He does have considerable backing in Russian-speaking eastern and central Ukraine, where one miner’s thoughts are shared by many. “I’m for Yanukovich. Nobody else,” he said. “He comes from here and he knows the hard life of the miners.”
The premier has hardly appeared in public since last month’s ballot. But when Yanukovich has hit the campaign trail, he has repeatedly derided his rival’s supporters as perpetrators of an “orange coup” – a dig at their campaign colours. He still maintains he won the election fair and square and that his victory was unlawfully taken from him.
But his protests sound increasingly like sour grapes to the thousands who rally for opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko. He has urged his supporters to turn out in droves to give him a convincing victory. Whoever they back, it seems that this time round all Ukrainians are determined that their election will be free and fair to end months of political turmoil that has bitterly divided the country.