The vast majority of Ukrainian voters oppose Russian military intervention in their country, even in the east and south where large Russian minorities live, a U.S.-funded poll by a Gallup affiliate showed Thursday.
The April 3-12 survey of 1,200 randomly selected Ukrainians of voting age by Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization found a nationwide average of 85% against any Russian military intervention, the International Republican Institute said in a summary of the poll paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Opposition to Russian intervention was predictably strongest in the western and central areas of Ukraine, where much of the population supports the country's eventual alliance with the European Union. The poll results showed 97% of voters in the western provinces and 94% in the central region that includes Kiev, the capital, responded in the negative when asked, "Do you support the decision of the Russian Federation to send its army into Ukraine under the pretext of protecting Russian-speaking citizens?"
But even in the eastern regions that are the scene of armed clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian troops attempting to recover territory seized by the militants, 69% expressed opposition to Russian troops intruding in Ukraine's affairs.
Opposition to Russian intervention in the southern areas was 75%, according to the poll. That canvassing did not include Crimea, which was seized and annexed by Russia last month, because pollsters were denied access to the peninsula by the Russian troops now in control, the survey sponsors said.
The survey also polled potential voters on their enthusiasm for and preferences in the May 25 election to choose a new president for Ukraine. An interim government of former opposition figures has ruled since President Viktor Yanukovich was toppled by a three-month rebellion and fled to Russia in late February.
"Despite the fact that 64% of respondents believe Russia will try to disrupt or discredit the May 25 presidential election, an overwhelming 84% said they either will or are likely to vote," the IRI account of the poll said. It found that enthusiasm for the vote was highest in the west and center, where 91% and 92% of respondents respectively said they planned to vote. In the east and south, 79% and 62% respectively said they intended to cast ballots.
Of the six declared presidential candidates, Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate industry magnate and former foreign minister, drew the most support among those polled, with 29% saying they were inclined to vote for him. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the Orange Revolution who was convicted on corruption charges and jailed during Yanukovich's presidency, was a distant second with 13%, the IRI reported.
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