Russia ties in question as Ukraine votes in election runoff
Story Code : 789807
Polling stations opened at 08:00 a.m. local time (05:00 GMT) on Sunday and will close at 08:00 p.m. (17:00 GMT), with about 35 million people eligible to vote.
The vote came three weeks after comedian-turned-politician Zelensky won the first round of the election among 39 candidates with more than 30 percent of support. The 53-year-old incumbent president got less than 16 percent.
Latest opinion polls show the 41-year-old Zelensky is expected to win the race against Poroshenko. According to the Rating pollster, the comic actor will secure 73 percent of the votes and Poroshenko only 27 percent.
The incumbent president, a confectionery and business tycoon who has been in power since 2014, was elected after an uprising overthrew the country's previous, pro-Russian government. Poroshenko has portrayed himself as the only candidate capable of standing up to Russia. People in Crimea voted for reunification with the Russian Federation in a March 2014 referendum. The ensuing armed confrontation between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian military has killed more than 10,000 people.
Ukrainians are also fed up with their politicians who they regard as corrupt and in the pockets of rich oligarchs.
Supporters of Zelensky, whose political experience is limited to playing a president on TV, insist that only a brand new face can clean up what they call a “political mess” in Ukraine.
"I'm not a politician. I'm just an ordinary person who has come to break the system. I am the result of your mistakes and promises," Zelensky told Poroshenko during the last election debate in Kiev on Friday, accusing him of overseeing corruption and failing to end the war in the volatile east.
Both Zelenskiy and Poroshenko have pro-Western tendency, opposing reconciliation with their eastern neighbors.
Zelenskiy has been advised to reconcile with Moscow and get back eastern Ukraine, where the pro-Russians have turned the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk — collectively known as the Donbass — into self-proclaimed republics.
An early count is expected overnight on Monday and the winner of Sunday's vote will be elected for a five-year term as president.