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Ukraine presidential election voter turnout 44.5% - commission

RIA Novosti


KIEV, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - The voter turnout at Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday was 44.55% as of 15:00 local time (13:00 GMT), the ex-Soviet state's Channel 5 reported citing the country's Central Election Commission.

The data was available on 38 voting districts out of the total of 225.

The Ukrainian president is elected for five years. The election will come off if 50% of voters have cast their ballots. In order to win the election in the first round, a candidate should gain 50% plus one vote, otherwise a runoff will be held February 7.

Election campaigning for 18 candidates in Ukraine's presidential race came to an end on Saturday. Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the opposition Party of Regions, and current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are seen as the main contenders for the president's post.

Both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko have pledged to improve ties with Russia, soured over Kiev's NATO bid, gas disputes and the former Soviet republic's support for Georgia in the August 2008 war over South Ossetia.

According to some polls, incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko's rating numbers are below 3%, but his campaign office earlier suggested those numbers were misleading and his support was being deliberately underreported.

The incumbent president, who was brought to power as a result of the Orange Revolution five years ago, earlier said his reelection was "the only realistic way of standing up for Ukraine and Ukrainians" and continuing the policies he had pursued for the past five years.

Ukraine has 36.5 million voters.