The man who narrowly came out on top in Ukraine’s presidential election at the weekend has publicly called on his opponent to concede defeat and step down as Prime Minister.
Viktor Yanukovich said the Ukrainian people are tired of waiting. But Yulia Tymoshenko has refused to accept the result, even though international observers said the vote was free and fair.
Speaking on Russian TV, Yanukovich said: “I want to remind Tymoshenko that the basis for democracy is people’s will, and democratic leaders always accept the expression of the people’s will. The country does not need another political crisis. The people have clearly come out in favour of a change of power, and the Prime Minister should make the right decision and move to the opposition.”
Ukraine’s Central Elections Committee declared that Yanukovich won nearly 49 per cent of the vote, and Tymoshenko was nearly a million ballots behind. The PM’s supporters are challenging the result, and that could lead to a long legal battle.
MP Andrey Senchenko said: “The Yulia Tymoshenko bloc is planning to fight for a recount of votes in the regions where, in our opinion, there is enough evidence of mass falsification of the election results.”
Yanukovich said relations with Russia would be his priority, but Ukraine’s sorry economy will need help from east and west. Tymoshenko’s challenge could put the brakes on recovery.