Ukrainian workers, seeing little hope at home, head abroad

Ukrainian workers, seeing little hope at home, head abroad
Supermarket warehouse workers ride trolleys and sort food and drinks near Teresin, Poland, March 12, 2019, with nearly half the workers being Ukrainian. Millions of Ukrainians, an estimated one in 10, have left their country to seek the opportunity of working abroad, as many see no hope if they remain at home. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

TERESIN, Poland (AP) — As Ukrainians get ready for a presidential election on Sunday, millions have already voted with their feet to leave a nation mired in corruption and inequality.

With Russia in control of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and backing separatists fighting the government in eastern Ukraine, the government in Kiev is unable to fulfill its aspirations of joining the European Union or NATO.

Ordinary Ukrainians long for better wages but see them stuck at a monthly average of . Business owners crave transparent rules but often face being extorted for bribes by corrupt officials.

Many Ukrainians who dream of a decent existence are seeking it elsewhere. In a nation of 44 million people, about 5 million — more than one in 10 — now work abroad, especially in neighboring Poland.