Ukraine's parliamentary election has been branded unfair by international observers who said the result reversed earlier democratic gains the country made.
With the top opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in jail, president Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions was poised to retain its control of parliament, according to exit polls and preliminary results.
Ms Tymoshenko's party and two other opposition groups, however, made a strong showing and were preparing to join forces to try to challenge Mr Yanukovych's strong grip on power.
Observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the "democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine."
They cited Ms Tymoshenko's absence from the election, the unfair use of government resources by the ruling party and tilted media coverage as the election's main problems.