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Independent Exit Polls Show Yushchenko Ahead In Ukrainian Election

21 November 2004 -- Independent exit polls indicate opposition challenger Viktor Yushchenko appears to have a lead over Moscow-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine's presidential race, though government exit polls give Yanukovych the lead.

One exit poll shows Yushchenko has collected 58 percent of the vote, and Yanukovych 39 percent, in today's run-off election.

That poll was conducted under a program funded by several Western governments, including the United States. It was based on responses by 20,000 voters at polling places throughout the country.

An exit poll carried out by a government-linked polling agency also shows Yuschenko ahead, though by a narrower margin -- 49.4 percent to 45.9 percent.

Other exit polls by government-affiliated entities are showing Yanukovych ahead by various percentages. Official results are not expected for several hours.

The election was tense, with supporters from both sides claiming widespread irregularities. Election Commission officials say the voting turnout was strong.