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AU Student in Ukraine: Election Day




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Photo: A family in Kiev shows their support for candidate Yulia Tymoshenko during Election Day on May 25. Photo by Trey Yingst.

AU student Trey Yingst is currently in Ukraine to report on upcoming elections and ongoing violence for News2share.com. The Eagle will be posting daily correspondence. Click here for the original story.

After Election Day on May 25 in Ukraine, AU student Trey Yingst spoke to a former mayor of Kiev and voters who set high expectations for the country’s next president, Petro Poroshenko.

One voter in Kiev, Viktoria Murovena, underscored the significance of the elections.

“Many people paid a high price for the choice we can make today. It was a price of blood,” she told Yingst. “The existence of these elections is proof of people’s will.”

She believed Poroshenko was the right candidate to bring stability and unity to Ukraine’s deepening crisis.

“I support Petro Poroshenko,” she said. “He’s the strongest, and I think we [Ukrainians] should stay together. We should all make the right choice, and fast.”

Poroshenko, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, claimed victory over the election’s 21 other candidates after exit polls showed him winning 56 percent of the vote.

His campaign platform promised to bring the rebellion in the east to an end within “hours.” According to the BBC, he declared his intention to pursue a closer bond with Europe while mending Ukraine’s fractured relationship with Russia.

Yingst spoke to Oleksandr Omelchenko, former mayor of Kiev, who called on Poroshenko to use his new position to reaffirm the Kiev government’s dedication to its people.

“It [Kiev] is the heart and soul of Ukraine,” he said. “Kiev will demonstrate the unity and principles of democracy, and it will ensure there is peace, concord, and freedom.”

Some Ukrainians, however, were not so quick to support the new president.

Dmytro Yarosh, leader of Ukraine’s right-wing Pravy Sektor and former presidential candidate, previously told Yingst he feared Poroshenko’s background as a wealthy businessman would interfere with his new position.

“As I see him now,” Yarosh said, “ I am unable to foresee Poroshenko being able to separate business and politics.”

According to Yingst, there are no indications that demonstrators in Maidan square, who have occupied the area in tents since February, will move until Poroshenko follows through on his promises.

“I am hearing mixed plans from Maidan occupants,” he said. “Some are saying they will leave as soon as next week and others are saying they will stay until they see action from Poroshenko.”

Yingst spoke to an election observer in Kiev who hailed from Donetsk, one of the epicenters of the country’s escalating rebellion, who said many in the east were prevented from voting.

“Today, I got a call from my friend [in Donetsk oblast] who wanted to vote,” he said, “but his election district was closed. I know that nearly all voting districts [in the east] are closed.”

He additionally suggested that much of the chaos in the east may be orchestrated by Russia.

“This didn’t begin in March,” he said, “this began many, many years ago.”

He told Yingst that Pro-Russian groups had long existed in country’s east, but they had never gained attention until recently, a sudden upsurge which he finds suspicious.

“Usually in their meetings, they couldn’t collect more than 100 people, but now, it’s like there’s been an explosion of energy and they can collect many people,” he said. “They were paid from Russia, it’s for sure.”