Ukraine elections to kick off on March 27
Ukraine goes for crucial polls on Sunday that will see it embrace a parliamentary system of governance.
Opinion polls indicate President Viktor Yushchenko is likely to be dealt a blow by his former rival and alter the pro-West course of the second most powerful former Soviet republic.
With 45 parties in the fray for the 450-strong single- chamber Upper 'Rada' legislature, the first since Yushchenko assumed power in 2004 through a West-financed 'Orange Revolution', Ukraine will be switching to parliamentary system of governance similar to India.
The leader of largest parliamentary party proving its majority on the floor would claim premiership and most of the powers of Yushchenko would automatically go to the new prime minister.
If pro-Russia opposition leader Victor Yanukevich's 'Regions of Ukraine' party wins, the Euro-Atlantic course of closer interaction with NATO and European Union declared by Yuschenko's government would be diluted.
And opinion polls show that Yanukevich's party, which enjoys massive support in Russian speaking eastern regions and Crimea, is poised to emerge as the largest faction by bagging 25-30 per cent votes followed by pro-Yushchenko 'Our Ukraine' bloc of Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov with 21-22 per cent.
Despite defeating Yuschenko in the 2004 presidential runoff, Yanukevich was routed in the third round conducted under the pressure of the anti-Russia Orange Revolution'.
In December that year, Yushchenko was declared elected after thousands of his supporters from western regions, wearing orange-coloured dress, squatted at the Central Square at capital Keiv and forced authorities to hold repolls.