Exit polls give PM’s bloc lead but ex-Orange Revolution partners could reunite to win.
Background: A tale of two Viktors
Russia keeps a close eye on Crimea
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With 83 per cent of the vote counted, Yanukovych’s Regions Party was ahead with 32.76 per cent, followed by the Orange duo – Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc’s 31.75 per cent and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine’s 14.84 per cent.
|Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, is
hoping to make a political comeback [AFP]
In the event, the result would mark the return of the two politicians.
Rigging prompted the 2004 Orange protests that overwhelmed Kiev for weeks in the aftermath of a presidential poll, initially won by Yanukovych.
The supreme court annulled the vote and ordered a new poll that Yushchenko went on to win at the head of the Orange Revolution.
Tymoshenko was briefly the prime minister after the revolution until she fell out with Yushchenko.
Taras Kuzio, a Ukraine specialist at George Washington university, said: “The Orange Revoltion has been saved by Tymoshenko’s election results. She saved it from oblivion.”
Some analysts question whether Tymoshenko will be able to overcome previous personality clashes with Yushchenko.
They also point out that in any event Yanukovych’s party is bound to remain a major force.
Russia had strongly backed Yanukovych and saw the Orange Revolution as a crushing foreign-policy defeat – straining relations with both Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.
In Moscow‘s first reaction, Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Russian ambassador, said late on Sunday that “we will work with any government”.
But Russian parliamentary deputies and experts cast doubt on the viability of an Orange victory.
“Regions party won the moral triumph,” Konstantin Kosachev, head of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Interfax.