On May 25th, Ukraine is holding early presidential elections, as well as the elections of mayors of the capital and several other cities. The voting takes place amid the continuing punitive operation against civilians in the south-east of the country.
Except for the breakaway regions of the country, the Ukrainians take an active part in the vote. In Donetsk, all poll stations are closed.
Pro-Russian activists in the south-east of Ukraine promised not to conduct the elections on the territory of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The two republics announced their merger in the new formation - Novorossia. In the north of the region, meanwhile, active combat action continues. Near Slavyansk, an Italian journalist and his translator, reportedly a Russian citizen, were killed. At the same time, under the mediation of the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, the journalists of the Russian TV channel LifeNews were released. The journalists were detained near Kramatorsk on May 18.
There are 21 candidates running for president. The main struggle is expected to unfold between billionaire Peter Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
In addition to the presidential vote, Ukraine is holding the elections of the mayor and the city council in Kiev, as well as local authorities in Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Sumy and Chernivtsi.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign