Sunday, March 26, 2006

Future of Ukraine decided today

KIEV, Ukraine - Ukrainians stood in long lines Sunday to cast ballots in a parliamentary election that could tip this divided ex-Soviet republic back toward Russia just 16 months after the Orange Revolution protests helped set it on a Westward course.
An opposition party advocating improved ties with Moscow and a halt to Ukraine's efforts to join NATO was expected to win the most seats in the 450-member parliament.
President Viktor Yushchenko's job is not at stake, but the vote is the first since constitutional reforms trimmed presidential powers and gave broader authority to parliament, including the right to name the prime minister and much of the Cabinet.
An independent voters rights group, the Committee of Ukrainian Voters, reported isolated problems, saying its biggest concern was long lines that forced most voters to wait for more than hour to cast their long ballots that contained the names of the 45 parties.
The vote could potentially allow Viktor Yanukovych, who lost the contested 2004 presidential elections, to slow the pro-Western course set by Yushchenko and seek improved ties with Moscow.