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Ukraine voters seek leader to save nation

Published on May 25, 2014 9:26 PM
 
Ukrainian soldiers voting in a presidential election at a polling station in Kiev on May 25, 2014. Ukrainians voted on Sunday for a leader they hope will save their country from bankruptcy, dismemberment and civil war, but eastern cities were turned into ghost towns where armed separatist fighters kept polling stations shut. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KIEV/MARIUPOL (REUTERS) - Ukrainians voted on Sunday for a leader they hope will save their country from bankruptcy, dismemberment and civil war, but eastern cities were turned into ghost towns where armed separatist fighters kept polling stations shut.

The election marks the culmination of a revolution that began in February when a pro-Russian president fled the country and spiralled into an existential crisis when Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by declaring Moscow's right to invade.

The main candidates, including frontrunner Petro Poroshenko, a confectionery magnate, are promising closer ties with the West in defiance of Putin.

"These are extremely important elections. We have to make sure Ukraine becomes a truly independent country, a powerful independent state that nobody will be able to push around," said pensioner Mihailo Belyk, 65, casting his ballot at a crowded polling station in a southeastern district of the capital Kiev.

 
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