KHARKIV (AFP) - Ukraine's jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said Monday she was starting a hunger strike to protest against violations in parliamentary polls in which the ruling party has taken a decisive lead. "I am announcing a hunger strike to protest election falsifications," Tymoshenko's attorney Sergiy Vlasenko read from a statement written by the ex-prime minister and 2004 Orange Revolution leader. Ukraine's ruling party claimed victory in weekend elections as early results showed it withstanding the challenge by allies of Tymoshenko whose jailing last year sparked global concern.

 Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the ruling Regions Party would win the majority of seats in the new parliament after Sunday's vote that the West saw as a huge test for Ukraine's democracy amid the furore caused by the imprisonment of Tymoshenko. While the vote for Tymoshenko's opposition alliance held up, the party of boxing champion Vitali Klitschko fell short of its high expectations while the political baptism of footballer Andriy Shevchenko was set to end in disaster.