Sat, Jan 01, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Election officials frustrate Yanukovych

LEGAL FIGHT The Ukrainian prime minister inundated the election authorities with what he called evidence of irregularities, but they promptly rejected his allegations


Election officials rejected Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's voluminous appeal of this week's presidential revote results, saying he had not proved there were mass violations. Yanukovych's campaign team vowed to take their legal fight for the presidency to the Supreme Court.

Four days after Ukraine's third presidential balloting in two months, Yanukovych has refused to concede, even as his rival, Viktor Yushchenko, began laying out a roadmap for his first 100 days in office, and told Ukrainians in his New Year's greetings: "The vote has changed the country and it changed us."

The revote, ordered by the high court following the annulled Nov. 21 election that handed victory to Yanukovych, showed Yushchenko winning solidly, according to final preliminary results. Final results can only be announced after all appeals are exhausted.

Yanukovych had submitted 27 volumes of complaints to the commission, including claims that at least 4.8 million people -- mainly disabled and sick -- were deprived of their right to vote by election reforms introduced after the first runoff. The complaints also included allegations that not enough ballots were printed and that people were illegally campaigning on election day, as well as problems with voter lists.

The 15-member Central Election Commission unanimously rejected the appeal on Thursday. The commission also noted that it could not consider complaints against itself, saying those could only be decided by a court.

"Evidence submitted in the claim does not prove mass violations" and could not "influence the results of the vote," said Marina Stavniychuk, a commission member.

Yanukovych's campaign manager, Taras Chornovyl, said they would appeal to Ukraine's highest court, but he was pessimistic.

"I could forecast the decision of the Supreme Court but it would be wrong to take defeat for granted," Chornovyl said.

no falsifications

International monitors reported no mass falsifications in Sunday's voting -- in contrast to their criticism of the Nov. 21 second-round presidential vote in which Yanukovych was declared the winner.

Suspicions of fraud drew brought hundreds of thousands of Yushchenko backers, dressed in his campaign color of orange, into Kiev's streets. The high court eventually annulled the ballot, finding widespread fraud, and ordered Sunday's rerun.

Yanukovych has refused to concede defeat.

"We will call all of our supporters, of which there are 15 million ... to not recognize Yushchenko as a legitimate president," Chornovyl said.

"In a year, we will change power," he added, referring to the 2006 parliamentary elections. That is a further acknowledgment that even among Yanukovych's closest advisers, hopes of canceling the presidential election results are slim.

Meanwhile, Yanukovych's opponent on Thursday began planning his new administration, telling journalists that he has a 100-day plan, and that he had created a committee to fill top Cabinet positions.

"We can move to the West only after normalizing relations with neighbors," Yushchenko said in an interview on TV5. "The EU doesn't need a partner with a suitcase full of problems."

In New Year's greetings posted on his Web site, Yushchenko said the country has made a "great step forward."

"The vote has changed the country and it changed us," he said.

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