Ukraine’s opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich will face his old rival Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a second round presidential run-off after Sunday’s election.
With more than 80 percent of the ballots now counted, Yanukovich had a strong lead – however it fell well short of outright victory.
Wedged between the EU and Russia, the vote is seen as crucial to how Ukraine will define relations with its powerful neighbours. The final outcome could also lead to the unblocking of frozen IMF aid to help Ukraine’s ailing economy.
On the streets of the capital Kiev, people gave there first reactions to the result.
“I was sure that he (Viktor Yanukovich) would win because our country needs some stability. It needs a president who would conduct a comprehensive policy. I think Yulia Tymoshenko is strong as well, but I think that she is more likely to get the post of Prime Minister, she does her best in opposition,” one man said.
“On the whole I am satisfied with the outcome of the elections, although the overall trend is not very good. Nobody is talking about the current economic crisis, and you cannot fight that with only promises,” another said.
Despite voters punishing current incumbent Victor Yushchenko – he was eliminated from the race – turnout was reportedly low at less than 50 percent, suggesting widespread disillusionment among Ukraine’s electorate.