Away from the ongoing unrest in the east, candidates for Ukraine’s presidential election have been on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday’s vote.
Polls show that billionaire chocolate maker Petro Poroshenko remains favorite to win, with around 34 percent of the vote.
Addressing supporters at a rally, Poroshenko said: “I’m sure what we are all fighting for is peace, calm and security, an economic upturn, absence of corruption and total international solidarity with Ukraine, which will enable us to not only restore order in the east, but also return Crimea soon.”
Sunday’s election is arguably the most important poll since the country gained independence 23 years ago.
Pro-Russian separatists in control of towns in eastern Ukraine, however, have vowed to use force to derail the election despite calls from the OSCE’s Wolfgang Ischinger for calm on all sides.
‘‘I do hope that there will be no military force used between now and the end of the electoral process in order to allow the electoral process to go forward. And I hope that message is being heard not only by the government side, but also by the other side,” he said.
In all, some 21 presidential candidates are registered.
The poll is meant to stabilise Ukraine after street protests in February toppled Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.