The latest results in the Ukrainian presidential election put Prime Minister Victor Yanokovich in the lead. It comes amid claims of voting irregularities, intimidation and fraud. The first exit polls painted a different picture with opposition leader Victor Yushenko in front. The liberal challenger has been campaigning on a pro-Western slate. Voters are being offered the choice of strengthening traditional ties with Russia, or moving closer towards Europe.
Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has been backing Yanukovich, the man he has chosen to succeed him. A November run-off looks more and more likely as neither candidate is expected to win more than 50 percent. Counting is continuing in the former Soviet Republic. Turnout among the nation’s 37 million voters is put at 76 percent.
The vote follows weeks of opposition claims of widespread abuse and voter intimidation. Yushenko claimed in September he had been deliberately poisoned. Election observers said that across the country, many voters were unable to take part in the poll because their names were missing from the electoral register.
And the European Network of Election Monitoring Organisations said some students had been pressured to vote for incumbent Yanokovich. The official results are expected later on Monday.