The people of Ukraine are voting in the first round of presidential elections.
leader Petro Poroshenko, 53, is seeking re-election but the surprise
front-runner is 41-year-old comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
along with former Prime Minister (PM) Yulia Tymoshenko, 58, have expressed
largely pro-European Union (EU) views during the campaign.
the pro-Russian candidates are seen as serious contenders. Areas controlled by
pro-Russian separatists are boycotting the poll.
candidate gets more than 50 per cent (yesterday), the top two will fight it out
in a second round on April 21.
of 39 candidates are on the ballot paper, but only the three front-runners are
considered to have any chance of victory.
Ukrainian president has significant powers over security, defence and foreign
policy and the ex-Soviet republic’s system is described as semi-presidential.
Poroshenko, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest oligarchs, was elected in a snap vote
after former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in the
February 2014 Maidan Revolution, which was followed by Russia’s annexation of
Crimea and a Russian-backed insurgency in the east.
The next president will
inherit a deadlocked conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed
separatists in the east, while Ukraine strives to fulfill EU requirements for
closer economic ties.
says that about 12 per cent of Ukraine’s 44 million people are disenfranchised,
largely those who live in Russia and in Crimea, which Russia annexed in March
Zelenskiy is aiming to turn his satirical TV show – in which he portrays an
ordinary citizen who becomes president after fighting corruption – into
torn up the rule book for election campaigning, the BBC’s Jonah Fisher reports
done no rallies and few interviews, and appears to have no strong political
views apart from a wish to be new and different.
extensive use of social media appeals to younger voters.
His readiness to speak both Russian and Ukrainian, at a time when language rights are a hugely sensitive topic, has gained him support in Ukraine’s largely Russian-speaking east.
Opinion polls suggest he will have a clear lead over Mr Poroshenko and Ms Tymoshenko in the first round, and would retain it in a run-off against either of them.
Mr Poroshenko aims to appeal to conservative Ukrainians through his slogan “Army, Language, Faith”. –BBC
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