Ukrainian elections: Yushchenko or Yanukovich?

An exit poll conducted by the SOCIS and Social Monitoring centers indicates that Ukraine’s opposition presidential candidate &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Viktor Yushchenko is leading in the run-off of the country’s presidential elections.

According to the poll, he has won 49.4 percent of the vote, against Prime Minister &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Viktor Yanukovich’s 45.9 percent, Interfax reports. A total of 4.7% of respondents voted against all candidates, reports Mosnews.

The election could determine the direction of Ukraine, a potential industrial and agricultural powerhouse lying between Russia and three European Union members to the west.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's backing for Yanukovich shows Moscow's desire to keep influence in its former empire after last year's election of a pro-Western leader in Georgia.

"The results of the exit poll show a clear victory for our candidate. We need to defend this victory," Yushchenko's campaign chief, Oleksander Zinchenko, told activists clad in the orange campaign colors and gathered in biting cold on Kiev's Independence Square, informs Reuters.

According to the Turkish Press, thirteen years after gaining independence from the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Soviet Union, Sunday's vote is a landmark event that will determine whether this nation of nearly 50 million turns toward Europe or remains under Moscow's shadow.

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