Polling stations close in Ukraine’s presidential election, vote count in progress

Polls open in Ukrainian presidential election

Polls open in Ukrainian presidential election

"We don't want to see all of the past in our future".

Ukrainian comic actor, showman and presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky waves to supporters as he performs with his "95th block" comedy group in the small town of Brovary, near Kiev, Ukraine, on March 29, 2019.

Yulia Tymoshenko, who had spent years in prison under the country's former pro-Russian leadership, tried to downplay the exit polls and said she was still hoping to enter the next round.

Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko came second in the first round, with 17,8 per cent of the vote to 19,19 per cent, while ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was third with 13,75 per cent to 14,2 per cent of votes.

"This is an absolutely necessary condition for our moving forward, for the return of Ukraine into the family of European nations and our membership of the European Union and NATO", Poroshenko said.

A comedian whose political experience is limited to playing the president on TV is likely to top the first round of voting when Ukrainians go to the polls on Sunday.

As UNIAN reported earlier, findings of an exit poll conducted by TSN show that Zelensky and Poroshenko will be competing in a run-off vote.

During his campaign, Zelensky focused on fighting corruption and urged direct talks with Russian Federation to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

He said that "we are young people".

But Crimean residents who kept their Ukrainian citizenship after the Russian annexation five years ago crossed the land border to mainland Ukraine, from where buses took them to the nearest polling stations.

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The exit poll, conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology and the Razumkov Center public opinion organization, was based on almost 18,000 responses at 400 polling stations as of 6pm, two hours before voting finished. The poll claims a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. Police had received 1,360 complaints of electoral fraud by 1700, with the majority concerning illegal campaigning, but the violations were minor.

"A new life is beginning, a good life, without corruption, without bribes", the 41-year-old told journalists as he voted with his wife at a Kiev polling station.

Over 26,000 Ukrainian voters were interviewed at 500 polling stations.

While there are no opinion polls tapping into the views of Ukrainians in Poland, Isajew sees signs that a higher percentage of Ukrainians in Poland than in Ukraine favor incumbent Petro Poroshenko due to his pro-European credentials, despite corruption allegations.

He said: "This is an absolutely necessary condition for our moving forward, for the return of Ukraine into the family of European nations and our membership of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

Neither candidate emerged from the field of 39 entrants with more than 50 percent of the vote, prompting a second round of voting between the top two candidates on April 21.

Ukraine's former prime minister, Tymoshenko, shaped her message around the economic distress of millions in the country.

Several millions of the approximately 35 million eligible voters are unable or unwilling to cast their ballots in the occupied territories. Crowds mobbed Zelensky making it hard for him to move around the polling station.

Poroshenko, who said the elections had been fair and in line with global standards, sought to portray Zelenskiy as unfit to represent Ukraine overseas, especially in taking on Russian President Vladimir Putin in worldwide talks.

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