Ukraine presidential candidates' application ends

KIEV, Ukraine - The application process for Ukraine's May 25 early presidential elections ended Sunday night, as 12 of a total of 46 applicants were not approved by the Ukrainian electoral commission.

Seven of the applicants were officially registered as candidates after Sunday, while the remainder of the candidates will be determined by April 4. 

Thirty-eight out of the 46 applicants are independent candidates with the remaining 8 being nominated by political parties.

The real competition in the elections is expected to be between former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who were released from prison at the end of February shortly after Ukrainian street protests culminated in the ouster of former state leader Viktor Yanukovych. Influential political figure and billionaire Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko is another major candidate.

The leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, Vitali Klitschko, withdrew his candidacy to support businessman Poroshenko as a presidential candidate. 

During a Fatherland Political Party meeting last week, pro-EU Tymoshenko pledged Crimea and Ukraine's reunification, the strengthening of the Ukrainian military, and the fight against corruption if she succeeds in the elections.

The ousted president Yanukovych's party will enter two candidates into the elections. It is expected that the parties' chances are reduced in the elections despite their potential to take votes from the eastern and southeastern pro-Russian Ukrainian provinces.

After the months-long street protests which began in November leading to the ouster of Yanukovych, the tensions in Ukraine have seen another dimension with Russia's annexation of Crimea under the pretext of a controversial referendum in favor of integration with Russia.

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