The first round of Ukraine’s presidential election is set for Sunday against a backdrop of deep economic gloom, voter apathy and corruption.
Many disenchanted Ukrainians have offered to sell their votes on the internet.
The unpopular incumbent Vicktor Yushchenko, who came to power in 2004, is not expected to progress beyond Sunday’s ballot.
However, the front-runner is the once-discredited former prime minister Viktor Yankovitch. His victory in the 2004 poll was overturned by public protest amid allegations of fraud.
Many expect him to win on Sunday and then go head-to-head with current Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko in the run-off set for February the 7th.
Analysts in Ukraine believe Tymoshenko will overtake him in the second ballot denying him a shot at the presidency yet again.
The former head of the country’s Central Bank Sergey Tigipko is also in the hat, but he is thought to lack the support to get through the Sunday’s vote.
Thousands of police are set to be deployed to ensure order after authorities received threats of civil unrest following the election.