Ukraine elections hit by accusations of bribery and ballot stuffing - Europe - World - The Independent

Ukraine elections hit by accusations of bribery and ballot stuffing

President's party should hold on to power despite strong showing for opposition in exit polls

The Ukranian President Viktor Yankovych was expected to retain his grip on the country's parliament following the country's elections yesterday amid accusations of intimidation, bribery and ballot stuffing and a strong challenge from the resurgent pro-Western opposition.

 

The vote is the first national election since Mr Yanukovych came to power in 2010 and the opposition is casting it as the last chance to halt a slide into authoritarianism and set the country back on a course to European integration.

Opposition parties led by the former leaders of the Orange Revolution are seeking to overturn Mr Yanukovych's grip on the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, and put a brake on what they describe as a wholesale reversal of democratic reform that he has commenced in his two years as President. Although exit polls suggested a strong showing for them in the proportional part of the vote, Mr Yankovych's Party of Regions is thought likely to retain its parliamentary majority as its candidates are expected to take the lead in individual races across the country.

"We believe that this is an undisputable victory of the Party of Regions," Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said shortly after polls closed.

Yulia Tymoshenko, pictured, the jailed former Prime Minister who was defeated by Mr Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election, condemned the vote. "Only a blind or deaf person could call this vote independent, regardless of who wins," she wrote on her website.

Mr Yanukovych's party hit back with their own accusations of dirty tricks. Ms Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years in 2011 on charges of exceeding her authority as Prime Minister in negotiating a gas deal with Russia in 2009. The sentence has been widely condemned as politically motivated. Her main ally is former Foreign Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is leading the United Opposition, an alliance between his own supporters and those of Ms Tymoshenko, in the elections.

The Party of the Regions – the largest party in parliament – is seeking to maintain its grip on power with a platform of "stability, economic development and unity".

Both sides are battling widespread cynicism with politics that has even seen some voters publicly auction their ballots on social networking sites. One candidate hoping to profit from disillusionment is the reigning WBC heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko. His new party, appropriately called "Udar", which means "punch" in Ukrainian, is running on an anti-corruption and pro-European integration platform.

Opponents have scoffed at the 41-year-old boxer's lack of experience; apart from two failed bids to become Mayor of Kiev his only political experience is a stint on the Kiev city council. But a calculation that such inexperience would prove a hit amongst voters fed up with both Mr Yanukovych and the opposition seems to be paying off.

Recent opinion polls put Udar in second place behind the Party of the Regions with 16 per cent of the vote. Klitschko is not the only colourful candidate. In an era of declining faith in traditional politics, all sides have turned to celebrity tickets to try to bring in the votes. Parties have fielded candidates including a pop diva better known for her low-cut dresses, a retired footballer and also an actor. Whether these stars can bring out the vote is another question. Ukrainian politics is famously raucous and chaotic, and these elections promised to be no exception. All sides were reporting incidents of fraud, ballot stuffing and cyber attacks.

CELEBRITY CANDIDATES

Vitali Klitschko At 41 the heavyweight boxing champion is entering the twilight of his sporting career. He has promised to send corrupt politicians to jail and wants to see Ukraine join Europe.

Taisia Povaliy The President's party parachuted this pop diva into its number two. Povaliy, 47, has conceded politics was not her first calling: "But then I discovered that the people want me to represent them."

Andriy Shevchenko The former Chelsea and Milan striker retired from football this summer and is now heading the party list for the Ukraine Forward party. He said he will devote his attention to sports and health if elected.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Undergraduates will be able to study beatboxing and performance poetry at one of Europe’s leading conservatoires for the first time, after the Guildhall School of Music and Drama revealed plans for a “groundbreaking” degree course.

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week