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Political vampires

Neither Yulia Tymoshenko nor Victor Yushenko is expected to lose Ukraine's presidential runoff quietly.

Last modified: 26 Jan 2010 17:52
Photo by EPA

It has been a bitterly fought presidential election in Ukraine.

The two frontrunners Victor Yanukovich and Yulia Tymoshenko have repeatedly accused each other of trying to rig the election in their favour.

 

But one Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) observer told me that he felt the accusations of fraud were being deliberately encouraged by the two rivals in the event of them losing the second round on February 7th.

 

"They’re creating an air of uncertainty with which they can contest the final result on grounds of legitimacy if they happen to lose,"  he said.

 

On Tuesday, a mysterious raid on a printing house where ballots for Ukraine’s presidential runoff were being held triggered a political row and an emergency security council meeting. 

Both Tymoshenko and Yanukovich accused each other of attempting to seize the buiding and print additional ballots.

Footage of the raid was posted on the internet.

 

 

Aggressive campaigning has done little to inspire voter confidence in the political elite.

Neither Tymoshenko nor Yanukovich are expected to lose quietly.  Many in the captial, Kiev are expecting mass street protests immediately after the election.

 

You don’t need to understand the Ukrainian language for an idea of the candidates’ very different styles and very different support bases. 

Have a look at their campaign videos. The vampire bat in Tymoshenko’s video is meant to be Yanukovich.

 

 

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The bitter political rivalry between the two frontrunners may play into the hands of business-man Sergey Tigipko, Ukraine’s answer to Sir Alan Sugar or Donald Trump.

 

Tigipko came third in the first round of voting and while he isn’t in the final running he’s already been offered the post of prime minister if Timoshenko wins. 

 

He likes to see himself as the strongman of Ukrainian politics.

 

 

But for many Ukrainians the presidential election is nothing more than the latest episode in a political soap opera; engrossing, entertaining and completely unreal.