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A recent poll by Democratic Initiatives and Ukrainian Sociology Service has found that less than 5 percent of Ukrainians think the Jan. 17 election will be fair.

A rigged or fraudulent election would be a national tragedy, undoing one of the few accomplishments of the last five years: Ukraine’s ability to hold a democratic presidential election on Dec. 26, 2004, followed by two mostly free and fair parliamentary elections in 2006 and 2007.

But as the Jan. 17 vote approached, leading presidential candidates sounded alarm bells and accused each other of plotting massive fraud. Whether the threats are real or simply pre-election hype will be known sometime next week.

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