Polls: Top party suffers loss in Ukraine

March 26, 2006 at 8:58 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, March 26 (UPI) -- Exit polls indicate Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's party finished third in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The pro-Russian party of the man Yushchenko defeated for the presidency 16 months ago appeared headed for a clear victory, The Washington Post reported.

Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions -- defeated by Yushchenko in 2004 following widespread protests known as the Orange Revolution -- held a commanding lead with 33.3 percent of the vote in one exit poll. Another exit poll gave his party 27.5 percent, the Post reported.

"Our victory will open a new page in the history of Ukraine," said Yanukovych Sunday night. "We are ready to work together with any political party."

Official preliminary results are not expected until Monday.

Yanukovych's platform called for reversing the pro-West trend set by Yushchenko and repairing relations with Russia. Negotiations on forming a coalition government are expected over the next few weeks.

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