Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who lost the Presidential run-off election, is resigning, although he will not concede defeat. Mr. Yanukovych will file an appeal with the country's Supreme Court, trying to annul the victory by opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. VOA's Jeff Swicord has more from Kiev.
Election night in Kiev's Independent Square: a jubilant pro-Yushchencko crowd celebrates.
Igor Popov is chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, a democratic rights group. He says this third round of elections, which Mr. Yushchenko won by an estimated 2.3 million votes, was much more transparent than the first two rounds. "The third round of vote is better than the two previous times and I know there were no systematic violations like previous times, two previous times. There were no administrative pressures to the voters, no massive manipulations in media. There were no strong violations with absentee certificates, no falsification of home voting,” he said.
But Victor Yanukovych doesn't see it that way. In a news conference (Monday evening) after the election, he vowed to never give up. The Yanukovych campaign claims that 4.8 million people couldn't cast their vote because of the recent changes in election law restricting absentee ballots and 'home voting" for the disabled. Both were said to be a source of fraud in the last two rounds.
And Mr. Popov thinks the 4.8 million figures just doesn't add up. "Our observation tells that maybe several dozens of thousand of people were not allowed to vote. The legislation had been changing several times and they didn't follow all the changes if they didn't know the new procedure, but if Mr. Yanukovych will prove this four millions with clear evidence, for sure he will be in supreme court but now we think that it is impossible," he said.
Mykola Katerynchuk is an advisor to the Yushchenko campaign. He says the legal challenges are just a stalling tactic to prevent formalization of the election results. "As per my point of view, Yanukovych doesn't have any legal basis to bring violations to the supreme court of Ukraine. But anyway we will demand this process to be open and in full view, that all the world can see all the arguments the Yanukovych campaign makes trying to delay the third round of elections," he said.
The Central Election Committee cannot declare a winner in this third round until the legal challenges have been addressed. Mr. Yanukovych also wants the challenges heard by all 85 supreme court judges, not just the civil panel that overturned the last round and called for new elections. By law, the new president must be inaugurated by January 16th. And that may end all the arguing over legal challenges.