Ukraine started an early general election Sunday, with voting at the 34,000 polling stations across the country opening at 07:00 local time (0400 GMT).
According to the Itar-Tass news agency, as many as 20 political parties and blocs are running for seats in the national parliament. The total number of hopefuls is 4,861, meaning that every ten of the candidates are contending for each seat in the 450-seat parliament. The Party of Regions and the Yulia Timoshenko bloc filled up completely their election lists which include 450 candidates each. The pro-president bloc Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense limited itself to 401 candidates. Other parties and blocs are much more modest.
It is necessary to hurdle the three-percent barrier to win seats at the supreme legislative body of the country.
According to latest public opinion polls, the greatest support among voters enjoy the Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovich, the Yulia Timoshenko bloc and the pro-presidential bloc Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense. The Communist Party and the bloc of ex-speaker of the national legislature Vladimir Litvin who can oust from parliament the Socialist Party of his successor Alexander Moroz, have also chances to get into the Ukrainian parliament.
Progress in the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine will be monitored by 3,355 international observers from 17 countries and 24 international organizations. Russia is represented by 134 observers, including vice-speaker of the Federation Council upper chamber Alexander Torshin, chairman of the Federation Council Committee for CIS Affairs Vadim Gustov and others. Head of the Russian Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov arrived in Ukraine at a personal invitation by his colleague -- chairman of the Ukrainian Central Election Commission Vladimir Shapoval.
International observers plan to air their appraisal of the elections on the second day after the voting -- Oct. 1. Ukrainian elections traditionally draw attention of the international community.
The polling stations will close at 22:00 local time I1900 GMT).