Yushchenko claims victory in re-run

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December 27, 2004

With nearly all votes counted, the opposition candidate in the Ukrainian presidential elections has claimed victory. Unofficial results show Viktor Yushchenko leading with 52% to the mainly pro-government candidate and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's 44% — a difference amounting to roughly 2.2 million votes.

This latest round of voting was to replace the results of the second run-off election held on November 21, 2004. After the November vote, many international observers criticized the vote as fradulent, and some regions saw voter turnout listed in excess of 100%, prompting the opposition — including Mr. Yushchenko — to assert that the results were invalid. Supporters of the opposition pursued legal channels, such as appealing to the country's parliament and its Supreme Court, as well as maintained a blocade of key government buildings in an effort to force a new election.

The new results were not, however, accepted by both sides. The government candidate, Mr. Yanukovich, vowed to challenge the outcome in the Supreme Court. "I will never recognize this defeat because the constitution and human rights were violated," he said at a press conference.

Unlike the November results which were nearly universally criticized by Western governments, the outcome of the re-run has been hailed as fair by officials in the United States and the European Union.

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