Yanukovich declared winner in Ukraine poll

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The Independent Online

Ukraine's Central Election Commission has declared Viktor Yanukovich winner of the presidential election. The commission confirmed Mr Yanukovich had beaten Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by 3.48 percentage points. Ms Tymoshenko has said she had proof of cheating by the Yanukovich camp in the run-off and vowed to contest his victory in court.

Tymoshenko, the fiery 49-year-old prime minister who trailed Yanukovich by only a slim margin in the Feb. 7 vote, renewed charges of election fraud against his camp on Saturday and said he would never be a "legitimately-elected" president.

But supporters of the 59-year-old opposition leader, who is backed by wealthy industrialists, brushed off any real threat from an expected challenge by Tymoshenko to a high court.

One pro-Yanukovich official said that after the Central Election Commission's declaration on Sunday Yanukovich could be sworn into office as early as the last week of February.

"The Central Election Commission declares Viktor Fedorovich Yanukovich elected president of Ukraine", commission president Volodymyr Shapoval said after confirming results that showed Yanukovich had defeated Tymoshenko by 3.48 percentage points.

It now seems likely that her supporters will soon present to a Kiev high court evidence of election fraud which Tymoshenko says has been amassed. Analysts say the court could take several days to consider the appeal.

Some of her representatives on the commission said they may appeal against the way the body had conducted its business on Sunday. But many analysts say that Tymoshenko lacks sufficient proof to persuade a court to overturn the commission's findings.