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Comedian Zelenskiy dashes ahead in Ukrainian presidential race

FILE PHOTO: Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukrainian actor and candidate in the upcoming presidential election, speaks during an interview with Reuters at a concert hall in Kiev, Ukraine February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

KIEV (Reuters) - Comic actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy has pulled further ahead as the frontrunner in Ukraine’s presidential election race, according to an opinion poll published on Monday.

A survey conducted by the non-government Rating Group showed the 41-year-old political novice had the support of 25.1 percent of voters.

Incumbent Petro Poroshenko had 16.6 percent support and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko had 16.2 percent.

The election takes place on March 31, with 44 candidates having entered the race. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, as polls predict, the top two candidates will face each other in a run-off on April 21.

The Rating Group said it had interviewed 2,500 voters in all regions except in the annexed Crimea, from Feb. 19 to Feb 28.

Earlier polls also put Zelenskiy in first place.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; editing by Matthias Williams