Ukrainian comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, was the clear winner of the first round of the country’s presidential election with 70 per cent of the votes counted, state media reported on Monday.
Mr Zelensky, a dark horse candidate who has never held political office, won more than 30 per cent of the counted votes, almost twice the 16 per cent of incumbent President Petro Poroshenko.
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko trailed in third place with 13 per cent, state news agency Ukrinform reported, citing the country’s electoral authority.
“This is just the first step towards the big victory,’’ Mr Zelensky told supporters in Kiev after the voting on Sunday as the initial results came in.
With no candidate appearing to obtain the majority required to win outright, a run-off vote is expected to take place in three weeks on April 21.
Mr Zelensky, famous for playing a fictional president in a popular television show, “Servant of the People,’’ has distinguished himself in opposition to a political establishment that has struggled with corruption.
Mr Poroshenko, who will now likely face Mr Zelensky in a run-off vote, had appeared slow in enacting expected reforms during his five-year term as his government struggled with a pro-Russian separatist rebellion in Ukraine’s easternmost regions.
Ukraine’s interior ministry said that over 1,600 claims of electoral law violations had been made during the election.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe was set to release its independent assessment of the voting on Monday.