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Tymoshenko to challenge Yanukovich victory, aides say


Latest update : 2010-02-09

Aides for Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (pictured) say she will challenge the results of Sunday's presidential vote that handed pro-Kremlin opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych a narrow win.

AFP - Ukraine's defeated presidential election candidate Yulia Tymoshenko will challenge results of the bitterly contested polls, aides said Tuesday, rejecting calls on her to ease tensions by conceding defeat.

Breaking a day of silence after her defeat to Viktor Yanukovych in Sunday's vote, aides said the prime minister's party would be contesting results in some areas and could then even challenge the overall outcome.

Tymoshenko, known worldwide for her golden hair braid and stylish image, has disappeared from public view since the results were published and has made no comment since a short address after exit polls.

Amid fears that Ukraine is heading for another protracted bout of political turmoil, international observers have praised the election and called for the results to be accepted.

The pro-Russia Yanukovych won by a narrow margin of just over three percent after voters rejected the pro-Western leaders of the Orange Revolution five years ago.

Tymoshenko's team had twice cancelled press conferences Monday but promised she would speak on Tuesday.

But the deputy head of Tymoshenko's Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT) party, Olena Shustik, said a decision to contest some results been taken at a meeting late Monday.

She said they would first demand a recount of the vote in some areas and then take the issue to the courts.

"If the result in the courts is positive, we will question the overall result," she said, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

"We will do everything to prove that this election was falsified," added BYuT MP Sergiy Sobolev. "We will prepare appeals to the courts in the next days."

Another BYuT MP, Andriy Shkil, said the party would only acknowledge Yanukovych as the winner "if we fail to prove in courts the violations that caused the victory of Yanukovych."

He said the complaints would be looking in particular at the votes of one million people who had cast their ballots at home.

Independent Internet newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda said Tymoshenko had announced at the closed party meeting that she would never acknowledge Yanukovych's victory.

"I will never acknowledge the legitimacy of the victory of Yanukovych with such elections," she said according to the site's unnamed source.

Yanukovych's Regions Party has also bussed in hundreds of supporters from its eastern strongholds to rally outside the central election commission, in an apparent bid to ensure the results stand.

Tymoshenko's campaign has long complained of dirty tricks by her opponent but international observers praised the election as impressive and the European Union said it was ready to work with Yanukovych.

The US embassy in Kiev issued a statement praising the elections as a a consolidation of democracy in the country but pointedly not mentioning Yanukovych.

The election result marked a stunning turnaround for Yanukovych, an ex-convict who lost the 2004 elections when the Orange uprising led to the courts finding his side had committed mass vote rigging.

A count from 99.94 percent of polling stations said Yanukovych had 48.94 percent of the vote, while Tymoshenko had 45.48 percent, the central election commission said.

Another 4.4 percent of ballots were cast "against all" in a sign of the disillusionment five years after the Orange Revolution. Some 1.2 percent of ballots were spoiled.

The Orange Revolution swept uncompromisingly pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko to power and created hopes of a new beginning in the strategic state of 46 million people wedged between Russia and the European Union.

But the dreams crumbled amid political infighting and a dire economic crisis and the new president appears set to take Ukraine on a path to better ties with Russia.

Tymoshenko, a champion of EU integration, was a leader of the Orange Revolution but later fell out bitterly with Yushchenko.

Yanukovych has in the last years emphasised Ukraine's ties with Europe in a bid to shed his reputation as a Kremlin puppet.

During the election campaign, the media-savvy Tymoshenko made a striking contrast to the wooden Yanukovych, who drew ridicule for his inarticulate speech and was criticised for his Soviet-era criminal record.


Date created : 2010-02-09


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