KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Early results in Ukraine’s presidential election show a comedian with no political experience maintaining his strong lead against the incumbent president in the first round, setting the stage for a runoff in three weeks.
With just over half of the polling stations counted Monday, Volodomyr Zelenskiy had 30.2 percent of the vote, while incumbent President Petro Poroshenko was a distant second with about 16.6 percent. Ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko trailed behind with 13 percent. The results were in sync with a top exit poll.
The strong showing of Zelenskiy reflects the public longing for a fresh leader who has no links to the corruption-ridden Ukrainian political elite and can offer a new approach to settling the grinding conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.