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Final Yanukovych Appeal Rejected In Ukraine

Will Yanukovych concede the election? (file photo) 20 January 2005 -- The Ukrainian Supreme Court has rejected what is likely a final appeal by Viktor Yanukovych challenging his presidential runoff defeat to Viktor Yushchenko.

Court Chairman Anatoliy Yarema issued the ruling early this morning following days of deliberation in the capital Kyiv. Earlier, AP reported that official government newspapers will publish today the official results from the 26 December runoff, which Yushchenko won by 8 percentage points.

Yanukovych and his lawyers haven't completely given up. They say they will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Analysts say the court ruling and the publishing of the results were likely the final two hurdles blocking Yushchenko's inauguration.

Yesterday, Yushchenko said he'd like to see the inauguration take place on 22 January -- the anniversary of a 1919 proclamation of Ukrainian unity.

Yushchenko lost his first runoff with Yanukovych in November. But following weeks of protests by supporters of Yushchenko, the Supreme Court ruled there had been fraud and ordered the December rerun.

Yushchenko has vowed to move Ukraine closer to the West.

Yushchenko is already planning his first trip abroad as president. An aide said yesterday that Yushchenko plans to appear before the European Parliament on 25 January to present plans for bringing Ukraine into the European Union.


[For more on events in Ukraine, see RFE/RL's dedicated Ukraine's Disputed Election website.]