Billionaire Petro Poroshenko declared victory Sunday in Ukraine’s presidential election, following preliminary exit polls that suggested he got 56% of the vote.
His closest challenger, former Ukrainian prime minister and leader of the Batkivshchyna party Yulia Tymoshenko, conceded the election after exit polls showed her with 13% of the vote.
Poroshenko, a candy tycoon known as the “Chocolate King,” is also a seasoned politician.
The election took place Sunday despite a recent wave of deadly violence in the east and threats by pro-Russia separatists to prevent citizens from casting their ballots.
Voters were picking a successor to ousted pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych in a country torn apart by Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and bloody conflict with pro-Russia factions.
The unrest has centered in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where separatists have claimed independence following a disputed referendum earlier this month — and many there did not get to cast ballots Sunday.