Yushchenko is winner according to first exit polls!
According to Fox News at 1:20 p.m., Yushchenko appears to have achieved a large margin of victory in the latest round of elections. According to exit polls (a bit of caution here) Yushchenko has polled something like 56.5% of the vote to Yanukovych's 41.3%.
Although both sides have complained of some instances of cheating, the election is believed to be much cleaner and more fair than the last one, and any irregularities that may have occurred are not believed to be enough to affect the final outcome. The Yushchenko forces say that the election was "clean enough" to ensure a large margin of victory.
The more than 15 point spread reflects the pre-election polls and appears to be accurate. Now -- if we can just make sure those servers don't "break down" and suffer a delay which miraculously awards millions of votes to the Yanukovych side.
Yushchenko may be making a victory speech in a little while.
Let me say though, that this is only the first battle in a long, long road to a free market economy and a greater democracy in Ukraine. The same forces which thwarted Yushchenko, who stole the last two elections, who bribed and intimidated opponents, who poisoned Yushchenko and who have worked against any attempts at reforms, are still in place throughout the country.
Yushchenko has an enormous task before him. Not to mention that even his life may still be in danger. Putin and Kuchma and the oligarchs who control not only billions in the Ukrainian economy and who also control vast parts of the countries natural resources and energy supplies still have many levers of power at their disposal and will now simply switch gears to undermining this new regime and thwarting any attempts at reform.
Yushchenko is going to need all his strength, courage and determination and a lot of political skill to navigate the treacherous waters that lie ahead.