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Yushchenko blames populism for election loss

RIA Novosti


KIEV, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko believes that he has lost the presidential election in 2010 because his main opponents widely used political populism during the election campaign.

Yushchenko, swept to power by the 2004 pro-Western street protests, gained slightly more than 5% of the January 17 vote. His presidency has been marred by continuous political infighting and economic problems.

"It is not my course that has lost, it is populism that has won," Yushchenko said in an interview on Ukraine's Inter TV channel.

Ukrainians will choose between opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a runoff election on February 7 after the January 17 first round failed to see any candidate gain 50% plus one vote. Both candidates have vowed to improve relations with Russia.

Yushchenko earlier warned that democracy in Ukraine would be under threat no matter who came to power, Yanukovych or Tymoshenko.

"Neither of them has a national ideology. Their ideology is populism. Both have proven by their practical actions that democracy for them is merely a screen shielding authoritarianism and corruption," he said.