KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Campaigns leading up to the presidential election in Ukraine next week could lead to a return of pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovych to power, polls indicate.
Some experts say the Jan. 17 vote could be a turning point for the country, which five years ago overthrew the pro-Russian government of Leonid Kuchma and Yanukovych, laying a foundation for membership in both the European Union and the NATO military alliance, EUobserver.com reported Monday.
A Kiev International Institute of Sociology poll indicated Yanukovych would capture 30 percent of the vote in the first round and 43 percent in the second round. His closest competitor, Yulia Tymoshenko, would get 16 percent in the first round and 29 percent in a run-off and incumbent Viktor Yushchenko would garner 3.5 percent in the first round, the survey conducted in December indicated.
Yushcenko defeated Yanukovych in a rerun of a presidential run-off in 2004 after the Ukrainian Supreme Court determined Yanukovych's campaign committed election fraud. Yushcenko assumed office in 2005.
Of the three candidates, EUobserver.com reported, only Yushchenko said his main goal was getting Ukraine into the European Union and NATO.
During a recent summit in the Ukrainian capital, the EU warned the country's officials to conduct normal elections to maintain good relations with its neighbors. So far, international monitors have not raised any problems in the campaigns.