Ukraine’s presidential election campaign is underway with opinion polls already dismissing the current incumbent’s chances of retaining his post.
Pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko is facing challenges from Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich.
Tymoshenko was once a close ally of Yushchenko and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him during the Orange Revolution in 2004, which followed the rigged vote that put pro-Moscow candidate Viktor Yanukovich in power.
Yanukovich staged a political comeback when the Orange movement split after the vote was re-run in 2005. Yushchenko won the second vote and appointed Tymoshenko as prime minister but when they fell out her government was dismissed.
Yanukovich then stepped into her shoes but he had to give way again to Tymoshenko who holds the prime minister’s position again today.
So how do the public feel? According to the political analyist Volodymyr Fesenko, not much.
“Up to 25 per cent of people questioned said they don’t trust anybody or remain undecided,” he said. “There is a very high degree of mistrust of all politicians. This is another peculiarity of the current election campaign.”
“Choose me,” say Tymoshenko’s posters, but it remains to be seen if the electorate buys into the blonde bombshell approach to campaigning.
The more traditional Yanukovich is relying on voters to seek improved ties with Moscow.