Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovich has opened up an almost unbeatable lead over his opponent Viktor Yushenko. If confirmed, the result will cement Ukraine’s ties with Russia and deal a blow to those who hoped the country would move closer to the West. Outgoing president Leonid Kuchma, who backs Yanukovich, has appealed for calm and asked people to ignore the opposition’s call for protests.
It is claimed that fraud centred on Yanukovich’s two strongholds in the east of the country. The OSCE says it has serious concerns with voter lists, while Canadian observers say they have found evidence of irregularities and police intimidation.