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Ukraine's Opposition Shrugs Off Vote Challenge

Opposition ally Yuliya Tymoshenko (in file photo), whose fiery rhetoric helped lead the opposition protests 30 December 2004 -- Allies of Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko say they are confident their side will win any court challenges and that Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych will not be able to overturn Yushchenko's victory in the country's 26 December presidential election.

Oleksandr Zinchenko, the head of Yushchenko's campaign and the deputy speaker of the parliament, or Verkhovna Rada, said Yushchenko's eight-point margin of victory was convincing and is not likely to be canceled by the courts.

"I think that all court appeals and their consideration by the court will not present a possibility of canceling out the huge margin [of victory] that Yushchenko has today; the victory is evident and convincing."

Yanukovych has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court and has filed a complaint with the Central Election Commission in a bid to overturn the preliminary final results showing Yushchenko defeating him by roughly 52 percent to 44 percent.

The 26 December vote was a repeat of the abortive presidential runoff of 21 November, which the country's Supreme Court eventually nullified following opposition challenges and more than two weeks of massive street protests.

Yanukovych says the repeat vote was marred by massive violations -- a view that has been rejected by most international observers.

In an interview on Channel 5 television, which is partly owned by an opposition lawmaker, Yushchenko sought to minimize Yanukovych's appeals, accusing the prime minister of "not living in Ukrainian reality."

Yushchenko pledged that his new government will work to deepen Ukraine's cooperation with both the European Union and with Russia.


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[For more RFE/RL coverage and analysis, see our dedicated "Ukraine's Disputed Election" website.]

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