With almost all votes counted Ukraine’s central electoral commission indicated Prime Minister Yanukovich was assured of victory. Initial exit polls showed his opponent on course to win.
But as counting neared completion Yanukovich was on almost 49 and a half percent while his challenger, Viktor Yushchenko, was on close to 47 per cent. According to those figures the prime minister could not be beaten. The ballot is seen as a turning point for Ukraine – Yushchenko is regarded as West-leaning but Yanukovich has promised closer ties with Russia.He has the backing of the Kremlin and the outgoing president Leonid Kuchma. The industrial areas in the east of the country are his main stronghold