Comedian leads Ukraine presidential vote, runoff in 3 weeks

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Early results Monday in Ukraine’s presidential election showed a comedian with no political experience maintaining his strong lead against the incumbent in the first round, setting the stage for a presidential runoff in three weeks.

With over 70 percent of the polling stations counted, Volodymyr Zelenskiy had 30 percent support in Sunday’s vote, while President Petro Poroshenko was a distant second with just over 16 percent.

Ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko trailed behind in third with 13 percent support.

The strong showing for the 41-year-old Zelenskiy reflects the public longing for a fresh leader who has no links to Ukraine’s corruption-ridden political elite and can offer a new approach to settling the grinding five-year conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has left 13,000 dead since 2014.

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