(WASHINGTON) -- An exit poll conducted by four main Ukrainian channels shows candy magnate Petro Poroshenko, known as the "chocolate king," with a big lead in the first round of the country's presidential election.
The election was announced after Viktor Yanukovych was ousted earlier this year amidst protests regarding his decision to strengthen ties to Russia.
In a Sunday speech, Poroshenko claimed victory in the election. The exit poll showed his opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko well behind. The exit poll indicates a runoff, which would take place next month, may not be necessary.
In a statement, President Obama congratulated the people of Ukraine for "making their voices heard."
"Despite provocations and violence, millions of Ukrainians went to the polls throughout the country, and even in parts of eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed seperatist groups sought to disenfranchise entire regions, some courageous Ukrainians still were able to cast their ballots," Obama said.
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