Tymoshenko withdraws fraud claim


UKRAINE’S PRIME minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, has scrapped her legal challenge to rival Viktor Yanukovich’s presidential election victory, after claiming the court would not give a fair hearing to her claims of widespread vote-rigging.

Ms Tymoshenko refuses to accept that she was defeated fairly by the opposition leader in this month’s election run-off, even though international observers said the vote was well-conducted and many world leaders have congratulated Mr Yanukovich on his triumph.

“It became clear to us that the court has not given itself the aim of establishing the truth. Under these circumstances, we simply do not see the reason for continuing with this case being considered. We are withdrawing our suit,” Ms Tymoshenko told a court in Kiev.

“A fraudulent vote took place and the will of the people was fraudulently handled. Sooner or later, an honest prosecutor’s office and an honest court will come to the view that Yanukovich was not elected president of Ukraine and that the will of the people was falsified,” she added.

Mr Yanukovich is now expected to be sworn in as president on Thursday, completing his comeback from a humiliating defeat five years ago, when the “Orange Revolution” street protests led by Ms Tymoshenko and outgoing president Viktor Yushchenko overturned his fraudulent 2004 election “victory” and put Ukraine on a pro-western path.

A bitter power struggle between the two former allies has paralysed reform since then, however, compromising Ukraine’s response to a crippling economic crisis and allowing the more Russia-friendly Mr Yanukovich to increase his popularity.

He still faces a major challenge from Ms Tymoshenko, however, who has refused to step down as premier. Mr Yanukovich says he cannot work with her and will seek to dismiss her entire government once he is president.