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Comedian Who Plays the Prez on TV Leads National Election

Volodymyr Zelenskiy says 'a great victory' lies ahead
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2019 6:15 PM CDT
Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, reacts as he responds to a journalist question during a press conference, after the presidential elections in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, March 31, 2019.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

(Newser) – A comedian with no political experience was leading in Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday, an exit poll and minimal early results said, but far short of the absolute majority needed to win outright in the first round, the AP reports. The poll said Volodymyr Zelenskiy garnered the most votes, while incumbent President Petro Poroshenko was in a distant second place closely followed by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The election was shadowed by allegations of widespread vote buying. Police said they had received more than 2,100 complaints of violations on voting day alone in addition to hundreds of earlier voting fraud claims, including bribery attempts and removing ballots from polling places.

Zelenskiy, who stars in a TV sitcom about a teacher who becomes president after a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral, led the field of 39 candidates with 30.4% of the vote, according to an exit poll. Poroshenko trailed with 17.8% support and Tymoshenko had 14.2%, it said. The poll claimed a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. The country's elections commission said that with a little more than 1% of the ballots counted, Zelenskiy had 27% of the vote. Poroshenko and Tymoshenko each were about 10 percentage points behind. The top two candidates will face off in presidential runoff on April 21. Final results in Sunday's first round are expected to be announced Monday morning. "This is only the first step to a great victory," Zelenskiy told reporters after the exit poll was announced.
(Read more Ukraine stories.)

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