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Yanukovych rejects debate, says Tymoshenko can show off in kitchen

RIA Novosti


KIEV, January 20 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian presidential frontrunner Viktor Yanukovych refused on Wednesday to hold debates with his opponent, saying Yulia Tymoshenko should either take responsibility for every word as prime minister, or go to the kitchen.

"She sees that she has already lost the election and is suggesting I should enter a competition on dirt and lies with her," the leader of the opposition Party of Regions said, qhoted by the Unian news agency.

"She is prime minister and must be responsible for her every word. And if she is to be treated as a woman, let her demonstrate her whims in the kitchen," Yanukovych said.

Yanukovych said he has held debates with Tymoshenko for the past five years, and voters showed their preferences in the election's first round on Sunday.

Yanukovych, defeated in the 2004 polls amid vote rigging accusations, garnered 35.3% of the vote on Sunday, while Tymoshenko received 25%. The February 7 runoff is required as none of the candidates won an outright victory with more than 50%.

Tymoshenko criticized Yanukovych for his refusal to take part in televised debates ahead of the initial vote, calling it "common cowardice" and casting doubt on his mental abilities and capability to run the country.

Both Yanukovych, who was openly backed by Moscow in 2004, and Tymoshenko, who has worked with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to resolve the bitter gas disputes of the past year, have pledged to improve ties with Russia. Neither of them took part in televised debates ahead of the first round.