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Twenty-Six Registered For Ukraine Presidential Election

6 August 2004 -- Ukrainian election officials say a record 26 people have registered to be candidates in the country's 31 October presidential election.

Voter opinion polls have indicated the leading candidates are former prime minister and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who is backed by President Leonid Kuchma.

Ukraine has been coming under international pressure to ensure that the vote is free and fair.

An international human rights watchdog, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, said it has already seen numerous violations in the early stages of the campaign, including biased media coverage and pressure on state workers to support Yanukovych.

The United States and the European Union have called on Ukrainian authorities to hold a free vote.