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Ukraine court hears last-ditch application to disqualify frontrunner Zelensky hours before election

An appeals court in Kiev has begun hearing a lawsuit demanding that the registration of presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky be annulled. The second round of the Ukrainian election is to take place on Sunday, with Zelensky having an overwhelming advantage over incumbent president Petro Poroshenko, according to the latest polls. But a lawyer and election observer from the Ukrainian Shareholders Association, Andrii Khilko, has demanded the disqualification of the candidate over alleged violations of the electoral law. Khilko insists that a post on Zelensky’s Facebook page about tickets to Friday’s stadium debate between the presidential contenders amounted to bribery of the voters. Zelensky’s lawyer responded that there were “no legal grounds” for the lawsuit, while the Central Electoral Commission pointed out that disqualifying Zelensky at this stage would be illegal. A candidate can only be removed from the running with no less than 30 day before a vote, according to the Ukrainian law. Poroshenko’s team, for its part, has assured the public that they had nothing to do with Khilko’s lawsuit.