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Ukraine election: presidential candidates trade barbs in stadium debate

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By Euronews
Ukraine election: presidential candidates trade barbs in stadium debate

Ukraine's rival presidential candidates were intensively campaigning for votes on Friday ahead of Sunday's second-round poll and hours before a televised debate in an Olympic stadium.

Incumbent Petro Poroshenko faces being toppled from office by political novice and TV comedian Volodymyr Zelensky.

Polls show Zelensky well-ahead of Poroshenko despite the fact that he's yet to say anything concrete about his policies.

On TV he plays a history teacher who becomes president by accident. This could be life mirroring art.

Being a natural showman, he insisted on an Olympic stadium as the venue for a televised debate with his rival.

The two candidates traded numerous barbs as rivals booed them in turn.

"Why is it that Ukraine is practically the poorest country but has the richest president in its history. Why? Why?," Zelensky asked the crowd, referring to Poroshenko's personal wealth.

Numerous corruption allegations and broken promises about severing links from his personal business empire have tanked Poroshenko's popularity over the past five years.

"A lot of people don’t want to vote for Poroshenko," said one woman, "they just want to choose another option."

Others had doubts about Zelensky.

"I’m pretty sceptical of him because of his shady campaign, because he doesn’t speak for himself."

But surreal as it may sound, he can always rely on his TV character to do the talking for him.