Ukrainians Vote in Presidential Elections
Ukrainians are going to the polls to vote in a new president after months of unrest following the ousting of former President Viktor Yanukovych.
Eighteen candidates are competing in the contest, which is widely seen as a crucial moment to unite the country.
Confectionary tycoon Petro Poroshenko, known as the "chocolate king", is the favorite to win. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is lagging behind Poroshenko in opinion polls.
In order to win outright, one candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote, otherwise a second round of voting will be held on 15 June.
But pro-Russian separatists in the east who oppose the election have threatened to disrupt the voting process.
According to Interfax, 34 regional electoral commissions in Donetsk and Luhansk do not work, as their offices are seized or blocked by heavily armed persons.
According to some media, one hour after the start of the elections, no polling stations had opened in Dontesk, which is the capital of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk.
Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged people to vote and "defend Ukraine" in a televised address on Saturday. "This will be the expression of the will of Ukrainians from the west, east, north and south," he said.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that he would respect the outcome of the election and was prepared to work with whoever was elected president.
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