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Polls Close In Ukraine's Presidential Election

Workers erecting a campaign poster for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. 31 October 2004 --Voting in the Ukrainian presidential elections has just ended.

Hours before the polls closed, a foreign observers' mission said voting has been hampered by "numerous, serious irregularities."

Edil Baisalov, co-leader of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), said ENEMO observers have found repeated instances of voters being turned away. He said they were turned away because "their names didn't appear on voting lists, controlled voting by busing voters to polls, and serious pressure on students by school administrators."

ENEMO represents civic observers from 16 countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which had monitors at 300 of the 33,000 polling stations set up across Ukraine.

Central Election Commission Chairman Serhiy Kivalov said earlier that all violations will be investigated.

The two leading contenders from 24 candidates are Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and former prime minister and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

If no candidate today wins an outright majority, the two top finishers face each other in a run-off next month.

(RFE/RL, Agencies)