Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko accused her rivals of planning to rig Sunday's vote

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leading candidate in the country's presidential election, on Wednesday accused her rivals of planning to rig Sunday's vote and called on the West to help prevent any fraud. "I would like to address... the heads of diplomatic missions in the country... and inform the international community that the state's key leaders are covering up a simple disruption of fair polls and arrangements for a large-scale fraud in Ukraine," the premier told a government meeting. Tymoshenko and incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko came to power after a peaceful popular revolt fueled by a fraudulent election in which former Premier Viktor Yanukovych was initially announced a winner. Ahead of January 17 election, Tymoshenko is running second among the 18 candidates behind Yanukovych, the leader of the opposition Party of Regions. According to a December opinion poll, 33.6% of the respondents said they would support Yanukovych, with 19.2% supporting Tymoshenko. Yushchenko trails with a mere 3 percent. Tymoshenko hit out at the "voting-at-home" scheme being developed in the country which she said could be used as an instrument for fraud, specifically referring to the activities of the Party of Regions in eastern Ukraine. She instructed the Foreign Ministry to give foreign diplomats information about vote rigging so they can appeal to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to intervene "as soon as possible." "I would like to turn to the country's president, who still remains the guarantor of the Constitution, to react to the situation as soon as possible... before the country loses the last characteristics of a civilized democratic country," Tymoshenko said. The prime minister also demanded that all international observers have access to the polls. On Monday, Ukraine's Central Election Commission, which has registered 3,149 international observers, denied registration to 2,011 official monitors from Georgia. Under a Kiev court ruling any protests will be banned in the capital's central Independence Square from January 9 through February 5. Although the main candidates have vowed to protest if they lose, analysts say a repeat of rallies is unlikely as Ukrainians have grown tired of the past few years of political infighting, which has been aggravated by the economic crisis.