A bitter fight for the presidency beckons in Ukraine after early campaigning saw each side accuse the other of involvement in sex scandals.
The frontrunner ahead of next year’s election is the opposition leader and former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich. The pro-Moscow candidate’s fraudulent victory five years ago was followed by the Orange revolution. He now faces allegations that he was part of a gang that beat and raped a woman in the 1970s. In parliament, a spokesman for the governing party demanded to know why prosecutors had not pursued the case at the time, when the accusations were brought to their attention. Supporters of Yanukovich have hit back. They claim that some governing party MPs abused children at a holiday camp on the Black Sea. The prosecutor general has confirmed that an inquiry is underway. The claims threaten to damage the prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the main danger to Yanukovich. With Ukraine suffering one of Europe’s deepest recessions, the rival accusations have set the tone for a dirty election campaign ahead.