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Ukraine President Yushchenko says will not quit politics

RIA Novosti


KIEV, January 20 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's outgoing president, Viktor Yushchenko, said on Wednesday he will not leave politics despite finishing fifth in Sunday's presidential elections.

"I fulfilled my democratic duties as president but national and state obligations give me no moral right to leave Ukrainian political life," said Yushchenko, who was elected president in December 2004 but received only 5.45% of the vote this time around.

Yushchenko said the elections were free, democratic and legitimate, but warned that Ukrainians had no real choice in the February 7 runoff between the two leading candidates, neither of whom secured an outright victory.

Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, defeated by Yushchenko in the 2004 vote, garnered 35.3% of the vote on Sunday, and will face the president's ally-turned-rival Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who received 25%,

"For both candidates ... national, European, democratic values are in essence alien, incomprehensible and very distant," Yushchenko told reporters, adding he saw no significant difference between the candidates.

Yushchenko led the 2004 pro-Western "orange revolution" along with Tymoshenko, who became his prime minister, but his presidency was marked by political infighting, economic problems and deteriorating relations with Russia.

Both Yanukovych, who was openly backed by Moscow in the 2004 vote, 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.