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Comedian to face off with Ukrainian president in runoff election

By Daniel Uria
Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky will face off with President Petro Poroshenko in a runoff election after garnering 30 percent of the vote in the country's presidential elections. Photo by Tatyana Zenkovich/EPA
Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky will face off with President Petro Poroshenko in a runoff election after garnering 30 percent of the vote in the country's presidential elections. Photo by Tatyana Zenkovich/EPA

April 1 (UPI) -- Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky garnered a commanding lead over the competition in the country's presidential election Monday.

Zelensky, 41, secured 30 percent of the vote with about half the votes counted, while President Petro Poroshenko placed second with nearly 17 percent of the vote, according to data released by the Central Electoral Committee.

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Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko received 13 percent of the votes, with candidates Yuriy Boyko and Anatoly Hrytsenko drawing 11 percent and 7 percent respectively.

Because no single candidate was able to secure 50 percent of the vote, a second round of voting will be held on April 21.

Tymoshenko, 58, said on Sunday she should have been in the runoff, as her campaign exit poll predicted she came in second in the voting with 20.9 percent.

More than 63 percent in an electorate of 30 million participated in the election, the electoral commission said.

Zelensky, who stars on a television show in which he plays a teacher thrust into the presidency, secured the support of Ukraine's young people by presenting himself as a change of pace from the country's old guard. At one point he commissioned suggestions for his platform on social media.

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He looked forward to the second round of the election on Monday after besting the field of 39 candidates.

"I'm very happy but this is not the final action," he told the BBC.

Poroshenko described the election results as a "harsh lesson" and positioned himself as the candidate most prepared to solve the country's issues.

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