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Ukraine Presidential Poll Bound for Run-off


First exit poll results from Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine show that neither pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich nor pro-western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko obtained the requisite 50 percent of the popular vote, and the two are headed for a run-off election.

According to Ukraine's government-controlled state television, Prime Minister Yanukovich has 40.5 percent of the vote to Mr. Yushchenko's 39 percent.

The vote count, which began in earnest after the polls closed late Sunday, continues.

There have been numerous reports of violations from several polling places, including the expulsion of opposition observers and police interference with voters.

Later today, independent western election observers are expected to give their assessment of the vote, which is seen as a virtual referendum on outgoing President Leonid Kuchma's rule.

Speaking to reporters Sunday after casting his ballot, Mr. Kuchma ruled out any role for himself in Ukraine's next government. He has said he plans to unveil a private foundation and write a book.

Ukraine's pre-election campaign was tense with each side accusing the other of trying to disrupt the vote, and tensions continue as both sides accuse each other of violations. Students back Mr. Yushchenko are planning to rally in Kiev in support of their candidate, while coal miners from the Eastern industrial regions of Ukraine are also heading to the capital to show their support for the pro-government candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Police have been gearing up for weeks to cope with possible large-scale public unrest, and there is heavy police presence outside the Central Election Commission headquarters.

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