Monday, November 1

The Other Presidential Elections

In Ukraine voting has been taking place in their presidential elections.



Mr Yushchenko (pictured before and after poisoning) is the only real opposition to the Moscow supported Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Yuschchenko, who would like stronger links with Europe, claimed he was deliberately poisoned last month. The authorities deny any involvement but it has become one of the talking points of the election (BBC). My lunchtime conversations in Odessa suggested that it was a who-done-it story with a sympathy vote likely for Mr Yushchenko. But at the same time his health is seriously in question.

The opposition claim there have been attempts to provoke violence, while the authorities accuse the opposition of plotting a revolution. The media too is under a huge amount of pressure with corruption never far away. Top Media, who I was working with, offer legal support to broadcasters.

Ukraine is in a valuable strategic position with a key port on the Black Sea and oil pipelines running through the country. Oil & territory may be at the heart of this (and other current struggles). I can see that the effort to bring democracy and decent behavior into the situation is desirable – but also expedient if it means a more western facing position.

Voting has been very close. The result is to be decided by a run-off on 21 November.

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