Billionaire Poroshenko declares victory in Ukraine - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Billionaire Poroshenko declares victory in Ukraine

Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) -- Billionaire Petro Poroshenko declared victory Sunday in Ukraine's presidential election, following preliminary exit polls that suggested he got 56% of the vote.

His closest challenger, former Ukrainian prime minister and leader of the Batkivshchyna party Yulia Tymoshenko, conceded the election after exit polls showed her with 13% of the vote.

Poroshenko, a candy tycoon known as the "Chocolate King," is also a seasoned politician.

The election took place Sunday despite a recent wave of deadly violence in the east and threats by pro-Russia separatists to prevent citizens from casting their ballots.

Voters were picking a successor to ousted pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych in a country torn apart by Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and bloody conflict with pro-Russia factions.

The unrest has centered in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where separatists have claimed independence following a disputed referendum earlier this month -- and many there did not get to cast ballots Sunday.

As of 3 p.m. (8 a.m. ET), some 528 polling sites out of 2,430 were open in the Donetsk region, the regional administration said. Local officials said there was 11.8% turnout at these polling stations.

Outside the country's restive east, voting was progressing more normally.

The Central Election Commission put voter turnout at nearly 38% as of 3 p.m. local time, not including the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukraine's official Ukrinform news agency reported.

In the city of Donetsk, the regional capital where pro-Russia militias are concentrated, there were no open polling stations, local officials said earlier.

A CNN team driving through the city Sunday morning was not able to see a single polling station in operation. However, there were signs some voters were trying to go to polling stations in areas west and south of the city.

Besides the presidential race, candidates are also running in municipal elections in some cities. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe deployed 900 observers for the election -- the largest such mission in its history.

Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine's acting President, called the polls open and transparent.

"The voting was free, without artificial restrictions and administrative pressure," Turchynov said in a statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Ukrainians for casting their ballots Sunday and criticized Russian-backed separatists, whom he accused of trying to block voting.

"Despite provocations and violence, millions of Ukrainians went to the polls throughout the country, and even in parts of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatist groups sought to disenfranchise entire regions, some courageous Ukrainians still were able to cast their ballots," he said in a written statement.

"We commend the resolve of all those who participated, as well as the efforts of the Ukrainian government to conduct these elections in the face of those threats."

Intimidation in eastern Ukraine appears widespread

Increasing violence in the east has led the authorities in Kiev to accuse Russia, which they say is backing the armed separatists, of seeking to disrupt the vote. Russia denies having direct influence over the militants, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the Ukrainians' choice.

Amid heightened tensions, instances of intimidation in eastern Ukraine appear widespread.

A large separatist rally was held in a central Donetsk city square around lunchtime. The protesters, who chanted pro-Russia slogans as they were addressed by separatist leaders, were joined by a substantial number of militants on trucks, some firing guns into the air.

On the back of some of the trucks were armed men who appeared to be Chechen. Two told a CNN team they were from the Chechen capital, Grozny, and one indicated that he was formerly a policemen in Chechnya and was in Donetsk to serve the Russian Federation.

The men, who as Chechens are Russian citizens, said they were there as "volunteers." But if their accounts were true, their presence in Donetsk would appear to indicate some kind of acquiescence by the Russian government at the least.

Residents of Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol saw new billboards on the streets Sunday urging them not to cast their ballots. The billboards were not at those locations the night before, residents said.

Also in Mariupol, people talked on social media about being asked by local Russia supporters to boycott the election. The city is one of several where deadly clashes have erupted in recent weeks.

The self-declared mayor of rebel stronghold Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, has said that anyone who tries to vote there will be arrested.

Also, an Italian journalist was killed Saturday near the flashpoint town, the Italian Foreign Ministry announced Sunday. The man, named as Andrea Rocchelli, was killed along with a Russian citizen, the ministry said. Reports suggested there had been mortar fire in the Slovyansk area.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Web Exclusive: Texas is among hottest job markets

    Web Exclusive: Texas is among hottest job markets

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:42 AM EDT2014-09-15 13:42:30 GMT
    The city you live in could play a major factor in landing that dream gig if you're on the job hunt.  A new survey is suggesting parts of the country expect an increase in the labor force.More >>
    The city you live in could play a major factor in landing that dream gig if you're on the job hunt.  A new survey is suggesting parts of the country expect an increase in the labor force.More >>
  • Kilgore Restore Projects Gain Support

    Kilgore Restore Projects Gain Support

    Monday, September 15 2014 12:05 AM EDT2014-09-15 04:05:28 GMT
    KILGORE (KYTX) - This group of men and women gather around this chipped, scratched, and vandalized sign that welcomes people into Dansby Village to discuss plans to fix it. Abandoned stores around this neighborhood show signs of a once thriving community, and this group is hoping to attract businesses back. Their first project is repairing these entry signs. Founder of RESTORE! Kilgore, LaMont Wheat says making the neighborhood look better is the first step to attracting businesses."Our inten...More >>
    KILGORE (KYTX) - This group of men and women gather around this chipped, scratched, and vandalized sign that welcomes people into Dansby Village to discuss plans to fix it. Abandoned stores around this neighborhood show signs of a once thriving community, and this group is hoping to attract businesses back. Their first project is repairing these entry signs. Founder of RESTORE! Kilgore, LaMont Wheat says making the neighborhood look better is the first step to attracting businesses."Our inten...More >>
  • Tyler woman warning others about scam

    Tyler woman warning others about scam

    Monday, September 15 2014 12:19 PM EDT2014-09-15 16:19:12 GMT
    TYLER (KYTX) - An East Texas woman avoids a scam that she says could have cost her thousands of dollars.More >>
    TYLER (KYTX) - An East Texas woman avoids a scam that she says could have cost her thousands of dollars.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

CBS19, MYTX & KCEB
2211 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone (903) 581-2211
Fax (903) 581-5769

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KYTX. All Rights Reserved. Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights, and Ad Choices.