[JURIST] Frontrunner Petro Poroshenko claimed Ukraine’s presidency on Sunday after exit polls gave him an absolute majority in the first round of voting. Billionaire candy-maker Poroshenko, who is known as the “chocolate king,” garnered more than 55 percent of votes. While announcing his victory, Poroshenko vowed to forge closer links with the EU, but his first priority is to travel to Ukraine’s eastern regions to end “war and chaos” caused by armed pro-Russian separatists. Poroshenko also announced that he plans to hold parliamentary elections later this year. Unofficial estimates put the nationwide turnout at 45 percent, but due to blocks created by armed separatists [Reuters report], only seven out of 12 district electoral commissions in eastern cities were operating [BBC report]. Following the results, presidential candidate and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [official website] made a brief appearance saying that the vote had been fair. Tymoshenko came in second place with just over 12 percent. If confirmed by results on Monday, there will be no need for a runoff vote on June 15.
The ongoing conflict [BBC timeline] in Ukraine has reinvigorated fears of Cold War Era politics and increased tensions between Russia and the West. Earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] urged [JURIST report] Ukraine opposition groups to “lay down their weapons” and come to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In April the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] announced [JURIST report] that it has begun preliminary investigations into alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated during the unrest in Ukraine. Earlier that month the UN approved a resolution [JURIST report] invalidating Crimea’s [JURIST backgrounder] secession from Ukraine less than a week after the EU imposed sanctions [JURIST report] on Russia for annexing the region.