Tags: Russia | candidate | Ukraine | election

Pro-Russian Candidate Ahead in Ukraine

Monday, 18 January 2010 10:20 AM

Ukraine faces a showdown between Yuliya Tymoshenko, the fiery leader of its pro-Western Orange Revolution, and her most ardent opponent after presidential elections yesterday.

The pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych came first in the election but failed to reach the 50 per cent mark needed for outright victory, according to exit polls published soon after voting ended. He will face Ms Tymoshenko, the Prime Minister, in a second-round run-off on February 7.

There was confusion last night, however, over the margin of Mr Yanukovych’s lead over Ms Tymoshenko, who inspired the Orange Revolution against his fraudulent election in 2004, when thousands protested in the streets to demand a rerun. Viktor Yushchenko, a former ally of Ms Tymoshenko, won the repeat election later that year.

Most exit polls showed Mr Yanukovych leading by about ten percentage points over Ms Tymoshenko, at about 35 per cent to 25 per cent. This margin suggests that there will be a tense fight to gain the necessary extra support from voters who backed 16 other candidates.

The Tymoshenko camp believed before the vote that she would beat Mr Yanukovych in the second round if the margin was ten points or less, thanks to support from voters who initially backed other pro-Western candidates. One exit poll put her at 27.2 per cent against 41.5 for Mr Yanukovych.

Sergiy Tigipko, a multimillionaire banker whose support surged late in the campaign, was placed third, with about 14 per cent. Mr Yushchenko was humiliated in his bid for a second term, gaining only 6 per cent, according to most exit polls.

Mr Yanukovych, 59, would tilt Ukraine back towards closer ties with Russia if he were to win, and drop the pro-Western policies of Mr Yushchenko, who infuriated Moscow by seeking Nato membership. He has said that joining Nato will not be a priority and has pledged to make Russian a second official language, after Ukrainian.

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Monday, 18 January 2010 10:20 AM
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