A woman walks out of a voting booth during a regional election at a polling station in Kiev, Ukraine, October 25, 2015. Ukrainians go to the polls on Sunday to appoint mayors and council heads to regional seats. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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Western-backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's fragile ruling coalition faced a major survival test Sunday in local elections that were instantly marred as voting was cancelled in the strategic port of Mariupol.Poroshenko's party said it still hoped to conduct mayoral and regional council votes in the city in the coming weeks.The party of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk -- a top Poroshenko partner who won October's parliamentary vote -- has seen his its approval languishing hover near zero and is fielding no candidates.Polls show that pro-Russian groups -- active in Mariupol -- are also gaining momentum because of Kiev's effective economic blockade of rebel-run regions in which an estimated 3.5 million people still live.The separatist parts of the Russian-speaking Lugansk and Donetsk regions are not only boycotting the polls but also planning their own for early next year.The insurgents intend to bar pro-Kiev candidates from their elections and accuse Poroshenko of "genocide".
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