Ukraine’s ruling party has claimed victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.
President Viktor Yanukovich’s Party Of Regions appears to have come out on top despite a strong showing from opposition parties.
The pro-Kremlin group should keep its majority in parliament, but voters hope the result will mark an era of political change.
One Kiev lawyer told euronews that he “expects new political forces and new politicians to come forward.”
Another voter said: “We must change something in Ukraine. There is absolute devastation everywhere. But the country doesn’t want to choose worthy people.”
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov described the election results as “a vote of confidence” in the Yanukovich administration.
The vote had been tainted by opposition anger over the treatment of one of his predecessors, Yuila Tymoshenko, who is in jail after being covincted of abusing her powers in relation to a gas deal with Russia.
However, Arseny Yatsenyuk, head of the united opposition in the absence of Tymoshenko, said the vote proved Ukrainians no longer trusted their government.
Initial counts and exit polls varied widely early on Monday. Counting will continue throughout the day with definitive results being issued later.
That is when international observers will give their verdict on whether the election was free and fair.
Officials put the turnout at some 45 percent of registered voters.