Ukrainians have started voting in the re-run of a presidential election there after a rigged first ballot last month led to prolonged street protests in support of liberal opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.
He looks poised to carry the vote this time, boosted by his supporters who all but brought Kiev to a halt for more than two weeks. Last months vote was overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds of massive fraud. After voting himself, Viktor Yushchenko told the waiting press that he was sure Ukrainian democracy would win the election. More than 33,000 polling stations opened at 8 a.m. local time and polls are due to close at 8 o’clock this evening. An exit poll is to be announced soon after, but it is uncertain when official results will be made available. Some 12,000 International observers are out in force to monitor the vote. Last month´s election was won by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, candidate of Ukraine’s establishment, who says his victory last month was illegally taken from him after protesters demanded a re-run. Today Yanukovitch said simply that he hoped Ukrainians would make the best choice. When asked how he had voted he said he had voted for the country´s future. Ukraine is an ex-Soviet state and is physically and ideologically squeezed between Europe and Russia. It is why so many are saying the country´s future direction is riding on the result of this poll. Efforts to ensure a fair election have been complicated by an eve of poll decision by the Constitutional Court to overturn a reform to limit mobile ballot boxes believed to have been a key source of vote-rigging.