Ruling party leads in Ukraine poll

Ruling party leads in Ukraine poll

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s party headed for victory in parliamentary elections tainted by the jailing of the country’s top opposition leader, preliminary results showed on Monday.

Despite a strong showing of pro-Western opposition parties, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions appeared set to retain its parliamentary majority with its candidates leading in individual races across the country.

With former Premier Yulia Tymoshenko in jail and widespread fears of election fraud, the West is paying close attention to the vote in the strategic ex-Soviet state, which lies between Russia and the European Union, and serves as a key conduit for transit of Russian energy supplies to many EU countries.

With votes counted at some 30 per cent of polling stations nationwide Monday morning, Party of Regions was ahead with 37 percent in the proportional share of the vote. The Regions also were poised to win some 115 seats out of the 225 total seats allocated in individual races, meaning Yanukovych loyalists would likely get a majority of votes in the 450-member parliament.

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