Still littered with reminders of its Soviet past the eastern city of Donetsk highlights the East – West divide in Ukraine.
The country is set to go to the polls on Sunday and mostly Russian speaking Ukrainians in the east favour Viktor Yanukovich’s ruling Party of Regions over the opposition.
Valentyn Litvinov, a retired miner lives in Donetsk, he says: “In the past 20 years we haven’t seen so many things achieved: but now schools, nurseries, everything else, roads, airports, everything which needs to be done has started to be done, my only hope is with the Party of Regions.”
But Tatyana Petrova, a former coke plant worker who now sweeps the streets to top up her pension earnings says she will not vote for the Party of Regions again: “I am disappointed with the Party of Regions for many reasons. The pension is small and they don’t raise it, I am over 70 but am still working, I’ve been working for 50 years already.”
But in the western city of Lviv the opposition coalition is far more popular. It includes imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party, as well as the party of heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko.Vasyl Soroko, a student said: “I expect the opposition to win. At least I hope for it and that life will get better bit by bit.”
But electrician, Andriy Mostovy was more pessimistic: “I doubt that anything will change in the country’s political life. Anyway, I don’t expect any improvement.”
Last year corruption monitor, transparency international, downgraded Ukraine to the 152nd of 183 countries in the world and this has been a key campaign issue for all parties.
Corruption has been described as a cancer in Ukrainian life which hits personal incomes, kills entrepreneurial spirit and deters vitally needed foreign investment. But regardless of the election result many voters feel that this is unlikely to change.