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Ukrainian Premier Files Election Complaint

Yanukovych Alleges Thousands of Illegal Actions by Opponent's Campaign

By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A08

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 29 -- Viktor Yanukovych, the apparent loser Sunday in Ukraine's second presidential runoff vote, said Wednesday he had filed a complaint with the federal election commission alleging thousands of illegal acts by his opponent. The move opens the way for an appeal to the Supreme Court challenging official results that gave victory to pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

Yanukovych, whose victory in a Nov. 21 runoff was thrown out by the Ukrainian Supreme Court because of fraud, has refused to concede defeat in the second runoff and rejected calls that he resign as prime minister despite a vote in parliament dismissing him. He said he would remain on leave from the job while he pursued his legal appeals.

Backers of Viktor Yushchenko, the apparent winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, rally at the Cabinet of Ministers. The crowd had blockaded the site to prevent a meeting of Viktor Yanukovych's government. (Gleb Garanich -- Reuters)

_____From Kiev_____
Video: Supporters of election winner Yuschenko block entrance to government headquarters Wednesday.

"I have no intention of resigning," Yanukovych said. "They are insisting on this because, before as now, they are quaking in their shoes."

Yanukovych's campaign manager, Taras Chornovil, said he had little expectation that the appeal would succeed. And other campaign officials began to speak of spending some time in the opposition.

"We will be a harsh opposition," said Nestor Shufrych, Yanukovych's representative on the Central Elections Commission. "Ukraine has never seen such an opposition."

With all votes counted, Yushchenko won 51.99 percent of the vote to 44.19 percent for Yanukovych, according to the election commission. The remaining voters exercised a right not to vote for either candidate.

Yushchenko's victory remained unofficial pending consideration of appeals filed by Yanukovych. Officials in Yushchenko's campaign said they expected Yushchenko to be inaugurated shortly after Jan. 11.

On Wednesday morning, crowds of Yushchenko supporters successfully blockaded a government building where the prime minister had ordered a meeting of his ministers. The session was later held at another building, but Yanukovych did not attend, according to a spokesman for the Finance Ministry. Yanukovych refused to say why he did not attend.

"I am not obliged to account to you where I was or was not at any given moment," he said.

The head of the elections commission indicated that the body found little merit in the 27 volumes that make up Yanukovych's complaint. They list thousands of allegedly criminal incidents carried out by Yushchenko's campaign.

"These legal challenges are an attempt to draw the commission out of its impartial stand and into politics," said Yaroslav Davydovich, head of the commission. "And that is impossible."

Among the allegations submitted by Yanukovych was that it was illegal for Yushchenko's 9-month-old son to be wearing an orange scarf and hat, the color of Yushchenko's campaign, when he was carried into a voting booth Sunday by his father.

The commission has already rejected that complaint, officials said. If it rejects all of Yanukovych's complaints, the prime minister can appeal to the Supreme Court.

"If there is any consistency, we have no doubt that the result of the election will be overturned," Shufrych said. By his account, Yanukovych wants another rerun or a brand-new election open to any candidate.

Yushchenko said in an interview on Ukrainian television Wednesday that he had already begun negotiations with the many figures in his coalition on forming a new government. "The revolution has won," he said.

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