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War weary Ukrainians want vote for peace

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War weary Ukrainians want vote for peace

War weary Ukrainians want vote for peace

With a week to go until Ukrainians vote for their next president, a solution to the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed separatists is one of the biggest issues the country faces.

After five years of violence, many in eastern Ukraine want a vote for peace.

Gracie Jerome reports

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War weary Ukrainians want vote for peace

In villages on the conflict lines in Eastern Ukraine, queuing is part of daily life - queuing to cross checkpoints to collect state benefits, queuing for food and coal delivered by government trucks, queuing for money from armoured bank vehicles.

And a week on Sunday they'll be queuing for the polls, to vote for their next president.

It's the first election since Petro Poroshenko took power in 2014, shortly after Russia annexed Crimea.

5 years of conflict between government forces and Russian-backed separatists have followed, and many voters want one thing.

(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ZAITSEVE RESIDENT AND PENSIONER, GALINA SOBOLEVA, SAYING: "Whoever promises peace to us, to rebuild our homes, we will vote for them.

That's all we need." More than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict - a quarter of them civilians.

Zaitseve, in the country's mainly Russian-speaking Donetsk region, was captured by rebels in 2014, and re-taken by government troops the following year - but the fighting hasn't stopped.

(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ZAITSEVE LOCAL ACTIVIST AND AID VOLUNTEER, TETYANA DURNEVA, SAYING: "Fighting is going on all the time - yesterday morning it was really thundering.

It happens almost every day and every night." Nikolai and his family live just on government-controlled land, just 600 metres from the separatist trenches - in a home that's barely survived the shelling.

(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MAYORSK RESIDENT AND PENSIONER, NIKOLAI YUSHKOV, SAYING: "We need peace.

Everyone says: you need to sit down and you need to negotiate.

Everyone says - we need peace." But that might not be the ultimate goal of many Ukrainian soldiers, who'll also be casting their ballots.

(SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UKRAINIAN SOLDIER, OLEG, SAYING: "Believe it or not, but soldiers don't want just peace.

They want a victory." If he wins, Ukraine's current president Poroshenko has vowed to take a tougher stance against Russia, while his two main rivals want to include the U.S. and other western allies in peace talks.




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