Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed a new law on regional elections on Tuesday, his office said, a move that is likely to boost his party's chances of winning the October 31 regional vote.
Voters in the former Soviet republic will elect mayors and local councils in October in the first test of Yanukovych's popularity since his election in January.
Yanukovych's opponents have criticised the new law as a move to give his Regions Party an advantage.
The bill, in particular, bans political blocs -- widely used by opposition leaders such as Yanukovich's archrival Yulia Tymoshenko -- from running in the regional elections.
The law also bars parties that have been established less than a year before the election -- ruling out participation by the party of Arseny Yatsenyuk who also competed with Yanukovych in January's presidential vote. The October election will follow unpopular austerity measures introduced by Yanukovych's government to secure funding from the International Monetary Fund -- such as raising gas and heating prices for domestic consumers.
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