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Ukrainians vote under watchful eyes

Parliamentary elections are under way in Ukraine, with world boxing superstar Vitaly Klitschko running for an opposition party. But polls indicate the party of President Viktor Yanukovych is likely to win.

1270692 Ukraine, Kiev. 10/24/2012 Political campaigning materials on a Kyev street ahead of the coming parliamentary elections. Alexei Furman/RIA Novosti

Ukraine Wahlen

Heading into Sunday's elections, President Yanukovych's Regions Party appeared to be in a position to maintain a slim lead in parliament despite a likely strong showing from opposition parties.

The party of jailed opposition leader, Yulia Tymoschenko, looks set to stay right on the heels of the Regions Party, and could benefit from teaming up with Klitschko, shown on the posters above, and his Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party to form a stronger opposition in parliament.

Corruption allegations and dissatisfaction with tax and pension policies have turned some voters away from the Regions Party.

Tymoschenko has been in jail for over a year after being convicted of abuse of office. The charges were brought by the Regions Party, and many observers in Europe believe her conviction was politically motivated.

Sunday's voting is being carefully monitored by representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It is the first election in Ukraine since the 2010 presidential election that saw Yanukoyvch beat out Tymoschenko. That election was plagued by accusations of fraud.

Germany's foreign minister used a newspaper interview to stress the importance of Sunday's election for Ukraine's image abroad.

Watch video 01:39

Ukraine: Wahl unter Beobachtung # ukraine11g # 28.10.2012 13 Uhr # Journal (englisch)

"Along with the observers on the ground, we will be examining this election very carefully," Guido Westerwelle told the Saturday edition of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. "Kyiv is aware of the fact that we are not satisfied with the state of the rule of law in Ukraine."

In a joint letter published in the International Herald Tribune, EU foreign policy coordinator Catherine Ashton and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote that they were concerned about reports that indicate state funds are being used in favor of ruling-party candidates.

Yanukovych has said that Sunday's election would be both free and fair.

mz/mr (Reuters, AFP)

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