Monday, February 8, 2010

The Times: Ukraine braced for conflict as polls signal end of Orange Revolution

TIMESONLINE ".....Ukraine faced the prospect of renewed political confrontation on the streets after exit polls predicted that the man closely allied to Moscow was heading for victory in the fiercely contested presidential election last night.
According to exit polls published immediately after voting ended, Yuliya Tymoshenko, the glamorous, firebrand leader of the Orange Revolution and Prime Minister, was narrowly beaten by Viktor Yanukovych, her bitter rival.
The margin of defeat, however, was as little as 3 percentage points, paving the way for a potential challenge in the courts — and in the streets, if her campaign alleges widespread ballot fraud.
Two polls gave her 45.5 per cent against 48.7 per cent for Mr Yanukovych, while two others put him at between 4 and 5 percentage points ahead. All four polls gave the election to Mr Yanukovych, and the first official figures, based on just over 25 per cent of the votes counted, put him eight points ahead....
.....Hundreds of Mr Yanukovych’s supporters were gathering outside key government buildings in Kiev last night as well as the Central Election Commission. The Interior Ministry disclosed that his Party of Regions had submitted plans to gather 50,000 people outside the election commission for a demonstration today.
The election had been billed as a verdict on the pro-Western revolution led by Ms Tymoshenko and her former Orange ally, Viktor Yushchenko, against Mr Yanukovych’s fraudulent, Kremlin-backed victory in 2004. History may now repeat itself if the ballot-box verdict is challenged on the streets...."
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