KIEV — The party of Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, claimed victory Sunday in a parliamentary vote tainted by the jailing of the country’s top opposition leader.
Despite a strong showing of pro-Western opposition parties in the proportional portion of the vote, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions was likely to retain its parliamentary majority as its candidates were expected to take the lead in individual races across the country.
With Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, in jail and widespread fears of election fraud, the West is paying close attention to the vote in the strategic former Soviet state, which lies between Russia and the European Union, and serves as a key conduit for transit of Russian energy supplies to many EU countries. An election deemed undemocratic by international observers could freeze Kiev’s ties with the West and push Ukraine toward Moscow. An exit poll showed the Party of Regions ahead with some 28.1 percent of the vote.