News / Europe

Tymoshenko Refuses to Concede Ukraine Election Defeat

In first public appearance since election, Ms. Tymoshenko attacked projected winner Viktor Yanukovych for breaking campaign promises


Peter Fedynsky

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko continues to resist calls to concede election defeat despite growing domestic and international consensus that Sunday's vote gave the presidency to her opponent, Viktor Yanukovych.  In her first public appearance since the election, Ms. Tymoshenko did not mention the vote, but attacked projected winner Viktor Yanukovych for breaking campaign promises.

Speaking at a meeting of her Cabinet, Ms. Tymoshenko lashed out at Viktor Yanukovych, saying campaign deceptions on his part are becoming clear after the election.  She referred to a decision in parliament by Mr. Yanukovych's Regions Party not to raise social spending.

Ms. Tymoshenko says people should consider this in all of their future political decisions - that, unfortunately, public relations ads about raising social standards have, in essence, been amended by the Regions Party, which did not vote on the issue.

Thursday's Cabinet meeting was devoted to the spring planting season and the mining sector.

Ms. Tymoshenko spent three full days in isolation after accusing the Yanukovych campaign of fraud soon after exit polls indicated she had lost the election Sunday evening.

In Kyiv, the head of the independent Voters Committee of Ukraine, Oleksandr Chernenko, says it is impossible to narrow proof of election fraud to individual ballots and to determine if such cheating swayed the result.

Chernenko says any challenge to the election should involve systemic violations that could theoretically influence the result.  But he says his organization sees no signs of genuine systemic violations that would void the entire election.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) endorsed Sunday's vote as "an impressive display of democratic elections."  The U.S. State Department, citing preliminary conclusions of an honest election by other international observers, welcomed the high turnout, saying it "reflects another step in the consolidation of Ukraine's democracy."

A public opinion survey by Kyiv's Horshenin Institute indicates more than 68 percent of Ukrainians trust the results announced by the country's Central Election Commission.  About 46 percent believe there were voting irregularities, but less than 14 percent think they influenced the result.

On Wednesday, Viktor Yanukovych called on Ms. Tymoshenko to resign as prime minister and to join the opposition.  He also urged the current parliamentary coalition to dissolve so that he can begin discussions with various factions about forming a new government.

On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev telephoned Mr. Yanukovych with what appears to be a cautious statement.  The Kremlin Web site says the Russian leader extended congratulations for completing an election campaign that was highly evaluated by international observers, and on the success Mr. Yanukovych achieved in the presidential election.

In an online statement by the leader of Ukraine's Slavic neighbor to the west, Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he has met many times with Mr. Yanukovych and characterized their relations as good.  Mr. Kaczynski adds, however, that he cannot say he is happy with Mr. Yanukovych's victory, but that time will tell what the fate of Ukraine will be.

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