Yanukovych Refuses to Resign — Russia Backs Him
Ukrainian Prime Minister, presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych vowed Wednesday not to quit his post. “I in principle will not write a statement (of resignation),” Yanukovych said in a press conference in his Kiev campaign headquters. He said that the main task of his team is to defend in the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the Supreme Court the choicefor Ukraine “by all legal means.”
Earlier Wednesday, Yanukovych, who came back to work as prime minister from a campaign vacation on Tuesday, was forced to cancela Cabinet meeting after supporters of his rival, opposition leaderViktor Yushchenko, blocked the government building. The meeting, however, took place later, but without Yanukovych’s participance.
The CEC has yet to officially declare the results of the Sunday’ s reelection, but preliminary results released by the CEC on Tuesday made Yanukovych’s rival Yushchenko, the victor with 51.99 percent of the vote against Yanukovych’s 44.19 percent. Yanukovych has refused to concede defeat and said he will appeal to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the result.
As European leaders hailed the apparent victory of Ukraine opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko as a triumph for democracy worldwide, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Russia might refuse to recognize Mr. Yushchenko as the new president of his country. A statement issued by Moscow Wednesday said that electoral observers from the West were “not objective” when they said the election process was free of tampering.
Meanwhile, the Herald reports an observer mission from the Russia-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) alleged that it had “found” huge electoral fraud that favored Yushchenko. Among the possible violations, reports Ukrainska Pravda, was “election propaganda, which is prohibited during the voting day, in the form of numerous orange marks in the streets.”
Amazing. President Bush will need to make it clear, pronto, that such shenanigans will not be profitable for Putin or Yanukovych.