Intl observers critical of Ukraine vote

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Election commission officials count ballots at a polling station in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. Ukrainians are electing a parliament on Sunday in a crucial vote tainted by the jailing of top opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and fears of election fraud. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — International observers say Ukraine's parliamentary election was marked by an uneven playing field, reversing earlier democratic gains the country has made.

With the country's 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 from Sunday's vote.

Tymoshenko's party and two other opposition groups, however, made a strong showing and were preparing to join forces to try to challenge Yanukovych's strong grip on power.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Monday the "democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine." They cited 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.