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Ukraine's Yanukovych to be sworn in Feb. 25 despite opponent's protests

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's president-elect Viktor Yanukovych will be sworn in to office February 25 despite an intention by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was his main presidential contender, to contest his victory in court, the Ukrainian parliament decided on Tuesday.

A total of 238 members of the parliament supported the date, with 226 necessary.

Ukraine's Central Election Commission has officially declared opposition leader Yanukovych the winner of the presidential election. At the February 7 runoff, he garnered 48.95% of the vote, just about 3.5% more than Tymoshenko, who received 45.47%.

Tymoshenko, a leader of the "orange" street protests that overturned Yanukovych's tainted election victory in 2004, has refused to concede defeat, alleging fraud. The prime minster's headquarters said on Monday it would contest Yanukovych's victory in court on Tuesday.

Deputy prime minister and head of Tymoshenko's election staff Oleksandr Turchynov said the prime minister would request that the court session be broadcast live, adding they had prepared video material substantiating accusations of fraud at polling stations.

Foreign monitors said the election was fair. Western countries and organizations sent a flurry of congratulations to Yanukovych even before his election victory was officially announced on Sunday.

Yanukovych's Party of Regions, which has urged Tymoshenko to resign as premier, dismissed threats to contest the election results as attempts to delay the presidential inauguration.

Tymoshenko is likely to fight to the end for her current job. She and Yanukovych have the two biggest factions in parliament, but neither has enough votes to control key nominations and both have to rely heavily on allies from smaller parties.

In Ukraine, the parliamentary majority rather than president proposes a candidate for prime minister. The parliament has 450 seats.

Yanukovych's party with 175 seats is in talks with other political forces to create a new coalition in parliament. The current coalition comprises the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (156 seats), the pro-presidential Our Ukraine (76) and ex-speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn's bloc (20).

On Tuesday, Tymoshenko held talks with the Our Ukraine faction, urging it to maintain the coalition in order to "jointly control activity spheres."