YUSHCHENKO WINS FIRST ROUND OF UKRAINE'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Challenger Viktor Yushchenko won the first round of the Ukrainian presidential elections on October 31 (Itar-Tass, November 2). According to official Central Election Commission (CEC) figures, Yushchenko won 16 oblasts and the city of Kyiv. Besides sweeping western Ukraine, Yushchenko won the whole of central Ukraine, a key region where then-incumbent Leonid Kravchuk lost to Leonid Kuchma in the 1994 presidential elections. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych only won in nine of Ukraine's 25 oblasts and in the city of Sevastopol.
With 97.67% of the results tallied by the end of Tuesday [November 2], the CEC reported that Yanukovych was leading by 39.88% to Yushchenko's 39.22%. However, many observers find it suspicious that the CEC has taken so long to collect results from key regions that are Yushchenko strongholds -- western Ukraine, including Lviv (3.5% of the votes still not submitted), Ivano-Frankivsk (12%), Ternopil (5%), Volyn (5%), and central Ukraine, including the city of Kyiv, (8%), Khmelnytsky (6.4%), Kirovohrad, and Vynnytsia (3%). These regions would give Yushchenko an additional 250,000 votes, eclipsing Yanukovych's lead of 182,000.
EDM also notes that, because of the Socialists' disquiet about apparent falsifications and their unwillingness to back a candidate from the authorities
Yushchenko is...set to gain the Socialist vote in round two [which takes place in 3 week's time], as well as negative votes against the authorities. Yanukovych meanwhile, has exhausted his election support in round one and has nothing to draw upon in round two.