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Incumbent wins 1st round as Lithuanians votes for president in shadow of Ukraine crisis

  • Lithuania Presidential Election-1.jpg

    Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite, a presidential candidate, casts her ballot at a polling station during the first round presidential elections in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, May 11, 2014. Grybauskaite is widely expected to win a second term in Lithuania's presidential election. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis) (The Associated Press)

  • Lithuania Presidential Election-2.jpg

    Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite, a presidential candidate, leaves a voting booth at a polling station during the first round presidential elections in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, May 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis) (The Associated Press)

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has taken a big step toward winning a second term, dominating the first round of voting in the Baltic country's sixth presidential election since it regained independence in 1991.

Lithuania's election commission said Grybauskaite, a former European Union budget commissioner, had about 45 percent of the vote in Sunday's election with nearly 90 percent of the ballots counted.

If the preliminary results stand she will face her top challenger in a runoff to be held along with European Parliament elections on May 25.

The race for second place was tight: Zigmantas Balcytis, a social democrat, had 14 percent, just one percentage point more than Labor lawmaker Arturas Paulauskas.

Grybauskaite has been a vocal critic of Russia's actions on Ukraine, boosting her popularity in a country controlled by Moscow during the Cold War.