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Tymoshenko camp suspects Yanukovych of 3% vote theft

RIA Novosti

18/01/201018:48

KIEV, January 18 (RIA Novosti) - The camp of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko accused on Monday the frontrunner in the Ukrainian presidential election, opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, of stealing 3% of the premier's votes.

With 95.18% of the votes counted, pro-Russian presidential candidate Yanukovych is leading in Sunday's polls with 35.42% of the vote, followed by Tymoshenko with 24.95%.

"In the first round, Viktor Yanukovych's representatives might have rigged the vote locally in the country's eastern and southern parts, which brought Yulia Tymoshenko's results down some 3%, with Yanukovych's results growing by 3%," Oleksandr Turchinov, the Tymoshenko camp chief, said.

Yanukovych, 59, enjoys support of mainly Russian-speaking eastern regions. Tymoshenko, 49, a leader of the "orange revolution" protests amid election fraud accusations in 2004 against Yanukovych, is popular in the country's west.

Turchinov said the "predominance" of Yanukovych's representatives at polling stations could have caused the fraud.

However, the joint observer mission from a number of international organizations said the first round of the Ukrainian election met the majority of OSCE and Council of Europe voting standards.

Western monitors pointed to "significant progress" against the 2004 polls, and said political rights and freedom had not been violated.

The 2004 mass street protests known as the "orange revolution" brought current President Viktor Yushchenko to power amid election fraud accusations against Yanukovych.

Experts predict a tight race with unpredictable results between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych when they face each other in a run-off vote on February 7.