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Vote rigged in Ukraine - Tymoshenko headquarters

RIA Novosti

10/02/201018:19

KIEV, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's presidential election was rigged in some regions and this has been proven legally, a Ukrainian first deputy prime minister said Wednesday.

Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych narrowly won Ukraine's presidential election with 48.95% of the vote, with his rival Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko garnering 45.47% of the vote, 3.48 points behind Yanukovych, according to preliminary results announced on Wednesday after election authorities finished counting ballots following Sunday's runoff.

"I have the authority to announce the first legally proven falsifications in the interest of Yanukovych in the Ukrainian presidential election runoff," Oleksandr Turchynov, who also heads Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's election headquarters, said in a statement posted on Tymoshenko's website.

"In particular, in the 5th electoral district [city of Kerch] we managed to initiate the first recount at the 20th polling station despite resistance from Yanukovych's representatives," he said, adding that data submitted to the Central Election Commission gave Yanukovych 8% more votes that he actually received.

Supporters of Tymoshenko earlier demanded a recount, saying they had evidence of violations at hundreds of polling stations, including in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, as well as in the Crimea.

The Dnepropetrovsk city headquarters of Tymoshenko said Yanukovych's Party of Regions members brought voters to polling stations in vans and campaigning for Yanukovych was still underway although it was forbidden. It also said supporters of Tymoshenko were prevented from arriving at polling stations.

Yanukovych's supporters, in turn, accused Tymoshenko of rigging in Ukraine's west where she has more support.

Tymoshenko, a populist leader of the 2004 "orange revolution" protests that overturned Yanukovych's tainted victory in 2004, has stayed out of the public eye since Sunday after vowing during the campaign to take her supporters to the street if she believed the polls had been rigged.

International monitors have praised the Ukrainian election, which the United States on Tuesday called a step forward in the former Soviet state's democratic development.

The official results have yet to be announced, although the completed count gave Yanukovych the plurality of votes required to win.

Yanukovych's victory could shift the country's foreign policy back toward Russia and away from the pro-Western course pursued by outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko.

Yushchenko, swept to power by the "orange revolution" that overturned Yanukovych's victory in 2004, was eliminated from the first round of the January 17 election with a mere 5% of the popular vote.