News / Europe

Tymoshenko: Ukraine Threatened by Dictatorship

Peter Fedynsky

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is refusing to recognize Viktor Yanukovych as the next president of Ukraine, claiming that he is seeking to establish an anti-Ukrainian dictatorship.  In a televised address to the nation on Monday, Ms. Tymoshenko issued a call for a coalition of patriotic and democratic forces to oppose the man who defeated her in the February 7th presidential election.  

In strong and uncompromising terms, Yulia Tymoshenko accused president-elect Viktor Yanukovych of serving the interests of oligarchs whose demand for cheap labor keeps ordinary Ukrainians impoverished and without rights.

The prime minister said that many of the oligarchs live abroad and have been stealing Ukraine's wealth for the past 18 years.  Ms. Tymoshenko added that her opponent's political team makes no effort to conceal its contempt for the Ukrainian language and culture, and that it has already taken steps to privatize the country's natural gas pipeline system.

The prime minister said she filed a court case against Mr. Yanukovych to defend Ukraine, but withdrew it after concluding that the courts were against her as well as ordinary Ukrainians.

Ms. Tymoshenko told a national television audience that international observers were prepared to offer legal proof of systemic election fraud.

Bur last week, international monitors denied Ms. Tymoshenko's claims that they had proof of election fraud.  Most observers noted minor irregularities during this month's voting, but no systemic fraud that would have overturned the results of the election.  Mr. Yanukovych won the presidency by nearly 900,000 votes.

Nonetheless, Prime Minister Tymoshenko said she does not recognize Mr. Yanukovych's victory and accused him of threatening Ukraine's independence.  She said the only way out of the situation is for all of Ukraine's democratic and national forces in the Supreme Rada, or Parliament, to unite.

Ms. Tymoshenko said it is time to set arguing aside and create a strong team in the Supreme Rada that will not allow what she called an "anti-Ukrainian dictatorship."

There was no immediate response from Mr. Yanukovych or his supporters.  But the president-elect said on Sunday that the parliament has every basis to work through the next scheduled election in 2012.  He added that if early elections are held, life will go on.

Political analyst Vitaliy Bala says Ukraine's troubled economy is not likely to improve soon, and that could work in Ms. Tymoshenko's favor.

Bala says the economy could worsen during the next 6 to 12 months.  He says an early election would benefit Ms. Tymoshenko, and speculated that she might return as prime minister with a new coalition in parliament.  Meanwhile, Mr. Yanukovych is seeking to form a new coalition in the current parliament.

The president-elect's inauguration is scheduled for Thursday.  Outgoing president Viktor Yushchenko says he does not plan to attend the ceremony, but that he intends to meet his successor afterward to formally transfer power.  

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