Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych refused to accept defeat in Sunday's presidential election re-run, claiming that millions of his supporters were disenfranchised and...
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych refused to accept defeat in Sunday’s presidential election re-run, claiming that millions of his supporters were disenfranchised and that there was systematic fraud. He said yesterday he would petition the Supreme Court to overturn the result.
“I will never admit defeat,” Yanukovych said at a news conference. “It’s an appalling fact when millions of citizens didn’t vote. They were stripped of that right to vote.”
With 99.84 percent of the ballots counted, opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, who leans toward closer ties with Western Europe and the United States, had a commanding lead, with 52 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Yanukovych, who wants to strengthen relations with neighboring Russia.
However, the Central Elections Commission cannot declare Yushchenko the official winner until all legal challenges are heard by the Supreme Court. That process could take several more weeks. Yanukovych has seven days to file a challenge.
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The prime minister said 4.8 million potential voters couldn’t cast their ballots because of new electoral laws that restricted home voting by the disabled and the use of absentee ballots. In overturning Yanukovych’s victory in the first run-off between the two last month, the court cited massive fraud in the home and absentee balloting.
Yanukovych said eight sick people died after arriving at polling stations. “Who will take responsibility for the people who perished?” he asked.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that despite some shortcomings, the elections were largely fair.
Yanukovych dismissed that judgment, saying “only the blind couldn’t see how many violations there were.”
A Yushchenko spokeswoman, Irina Heraschenko, said the opposition was not worried by Yanukovych’s planned appeal.
“He has the right to go to the courts,” she said. “But his appeal should be based upon facts, not disappointment. And we haven’t heard any facts.”
She said Yanukovych’s claim that 4.8 million people had been disenfranchised far exceeded any previous tally of the vote at home by the disabled, and that everyone still had the right to apply for an at-home ballot.