Campaigning for Ukraine’s run-off presidential election on Sunday has drawn to a close with the two candidates holding final rallies just a few hundred metres apart in central Kiev.
The meetings could hardly have been more different. Viktor Yanukovich – bolstered by a 10 point lead in round one – appeared smiling and confident at a pop concert.
Addressing a crowd of thousands in Russian, he promised Sunday would mark “an end to the Orange rule” – a reference to the popular uprising that followed the 2004 election in which he was cast as the vote-rigging villain.
The country would show a “red card” to the Orange regime of the last five years, he said. “The people know it can’t continue.”
In stark contrast Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the key figures in the Orange revolution, stood humbly alongside religious leaders, asking for forgiveness for the failings of her government but promising her values hadn’t changed.
“I am appealing to God to bless the unity of our state, so that nobody will divide us anymore or make us enemies,” she said, speaking in Ukrainian.
It is a big ask following a campaign of mutual smears and insults.
And analysts predict that if Sunday fails to produce a convincing victory, the loser’s supporters will fill the streets claiming fraud.