Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who plays Ukraine’s president on television, has won the first round of the struggling country’s presidential election and is set to face the incumbent in a runoff this month.
The political newcomer had garnered more than 30 per cent of Sunday’s vote with four-fifths of the ballots counted on Monday afternoon. President Petro Poroshenko, known as ‘the chocolate king’ for his expansive candy business, was in second place with 16 per cent.
Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was expected to miss the runoff with 13 per cent of the vote, even though she has claimed that her own parallel vote count has her advancing to the second round.
On Sunday night, she suggested she would dispute the results and called for supporters to come to polling places to prevent alleged falsifications for Mr Poroshenko
A simmering conflict with Russia-backed separatists in the east continues to plague Ukraine, which last year became the poorest country in Europe.
There has been agonisingly slow progress on reforms undertaken after a pro-Russian president was ousted by protests in 2014 and Crimea was annexed by Russia.
Surveys in March suggested that Mr Zelenskiy would handily defeat Mr Poroshenko if they faced each other in the second round.