Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich led in a presidential poll on Sunday, followed by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, two exit polls showed, indicating both now pass to a second round of voting on Feb. 7.
The exit polls showed Tymoshenko trailed Yanukovich between 4-10 percent -- a smaller margin than in the last opinion polls to have been carried out at the start of the year.
The following are analysts' comments and interpretation of the results.
INDEPENDENT ANALYST OLEKSANDER DERGACHEV
"If these results reflect reality, then Tymoshenko has a very good chance of winning in the second round. Yanukovich received close to the maximum level of support and he never exceeded 40 percent. There is a high level of distrust of him.
"The votes for (incumbent Viktor) Yushchenko and (former foreign minister and presidential candidate Arseniy) Yatsenyuk will go to Tymoshenko entirely."
MYKHAILO POGREBYNSKIY, KIEV CENTRE FOR POLITICAL AND CONFLICT STUDIES
"There were no surprises -- the troika of leaders (to have led the polls) had been predicted. But Tymoshenko, as before, managed to gain additional votes literally in the last days and hours. Opinion polls had showed a difference of 10 percent.
"Yanukovich is the favourite in the second round, but without the advantage that had been previously expected. The intrigues continue."
YURI YAKIMENKO, RAZUMKOV CENTRE
"The results showed that the main predictions were fulfilled and the unexpected did not happen. The gap between the candidates leaves a chance for each of them to win in the second round."
ANDREW WILSON, HISTORIAN AND COMMENTATOR ON UKRAINE
"The key poll is the Democratic Initiatives one (that shows a difference of about 4 per cent). Yanukovich's strategy was to knock her out in round one with a big lead. Clearly that has not paid off by any means. Most of the other candidates look like breaking in her favour. He's not got the reserves left."
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