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Tymoshenko hits out at Yanukovych over debates refusal

RIA Novosti


KIEV, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko criticized on Monday fellow presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych for his refusal to take part in televised debates ahead of the January 17 elections.

Anna German, a member of Yanukovych's opposition Party of Regions, said earlier on Monday the former premier was prepared to compete with Tymoshenko "in good deeds, not in empty promises."

"I cannot but take your refusal to hold open honest discussions as other than common cowardice," Tymoshenko said.

"If you don't think you have the brains and political experience to take part in televised debates, you should admit that you are not ready to lead the country, rule it or represent it in the world," she went on.

Tymoshenko plans to give a news conference on Tuesday, while front-runner Yanukovych is due to appear live in a television program on Friday, the last day of the campaign.

Tymoshenko said her invitation to hold a debate on Friday was still valid, and expressed hope that Yanukovych would agree to take part "at any time and on any television channel he sees fit."

Opinion polls point to Yanukovych, President Viktor Yushchenko's opponent in the 2004 race, as the leading contender with ratings 10% higher than those of his closest rival Tymoshenko, the incumbent's ally-turned-rival.

Yushchenko himself, who is struggling to get out of single figures in opinion polls, is expected to give a news conference on Tuesday.