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Lithuanians vote for president to succeed tough Putin critic

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VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — A prominent economist and a former finance minister held the top two spots in returns from Lithuania’s presidential election Sunday and appeared headed to a runoff ballot later this month to choose a successor to incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite.

With 1,631 of the country’s 1,972 voting districts counted early Monday, results provided by Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission showed Gitanas Nauseda, a banker-turned-politician, leading the nine-candidate field with 31.2% of the votes.

Ingrida Simonyte, Lawmaker and former finance minister, was in second with 27.2%.

In third was Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis at 22.2%, who told reporters during the vote count that he would resign in July if he failed to advance to a runoff.

Support for the remaining six candidates was in single-digit numbers.

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A candidate needed to get more than 50% to avoid runoff on May 26, the same day that Lithuanians will vote for their European Parliament representatives.

Preliminary voter turnout was 56%

Grybauskaite has served the maximum two 5-year terms as Lithuania’s head of state since 2009, a Baltic country bordering Russia that is a member of the European Union and NATO.

Grybauskaite has been a strong critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and campaigned on stopping corruption and improving Lithuania’s economy.

Along with picking a president, Lithuanians voted on a constitutional amendment to allow dual citizenship for hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians living abroad. Preliminary results indicated 70% of the voters supported allowing dual citizenship, the Baltic News Service, the region’s main news service, reported.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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