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10 Feb, 2010 10:01

Yanukovich victorious in close race of Ukraine's presidential election

With all votes counted, Ukraine’s Election Commission has announced that opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich has won the country’s Presidential ballot. He is 3.5% ahead of his rival, Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.

Yanukovich has 48,95% of the vote, while his rival Yulia Timoshenko has 45,47%.

Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on February 7 Ukrainians flocked to polling stations nationwide. There had been fears of low turnout, but by midday more than half the number of eligible voters cast their ballots, thus making voting valid.

Despite both camps accusing each other of falsifications, both local and international observers have deemed the runoff transparent and urged both candidates to accept the results.

Acting Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko says she'll “never accept Yanukovich's victory” and is ready to challenge the results in court, warning that there could be a rerun of the vote.

Earlier she said: “The split of three percent in the exit polls is within the margin of error,” noted Timoshenko. “Everything will depend on how our team does with the remaining votes yet to be counted. I urge all responsible for it: hold onto every protocol, every document and every vote, because one vote could change the future of Ukraine.”

It was quite the opposite atmosphere in the Yanukovich camp. When the presidential candidate took to the stage, he was greeted with a standing ovation.

“I congratulate you and all of Ukraine with the victory in the vote,” said Yanukovich. “People wanted a change and in this election we have made the first step toward uniting our country.”

On February 9, over 2,000 Yanukovich supporters held a rally outside the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine to show their support for the results of the election.

The blame game that was a permanent feature of the election campaign looks set to continue.

Scandal that surrounds the ballot has spilled outside the country’s borders.

Dozens of voters in Moscow have complained that they were denied the chance to cast their ballots because the doors of the Ukrainian embassy in the city closed two hours before schedule.

Despite their efforts to gain entry to the building, security guards would not let them.

The embassy says voters who came after 7 p.m. should have filed a special application in advance.

Even though the vote count is almost over, the head of the Central Election Commission has already said that it may take longer than it did during the first round, promising to present official results before February 17.

Meanwhile, in a telephone conversation, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has congratulated Viktor Yanukovich on his success after the crucial presidential vote, which was highly commended by the international observers.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Moscow hopes the new government of Ukraine will seek to further develop Russia-Ukraine relations in all areas.

Meanwhile, opinions of what Ukraine under Viktor Yanukovich might be have begun to appear. Most analysts agree that Yanukovich, if he wins, will be a Russia-friendly president.

“There’s been massive disillusionment with Viktor Yushchenko who has presided over five years of chaos and corruption,” said John Laughland a director of studies at the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Paris. “But at the same time it is clear that there’s still a political argument going on between these two Eastern and Western political orientations. If Yanukovich wins, which I suspect he will, he will definitely prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and that is major defeat for a certain Western geo-political project.”

Roland Oliphant from Russia Profile Organization told RT: “Even if Yanukovich is president, he is going to face the same problems that Yushchenko faced in terms of forcing decision-making through the Rada.”

Concerning two separate ideologies (eastern and western) in Ukraine, Fred Weir from the Christian Science Monitor said: “These two clashing ideologies have really become a major feature of Ukrainian politics since the European Union and NATO rolled up to Ukraine’s Western border about 5-6 years ago and Russia became much more assertive under Vladimir Putin.”

The biggest question on everyone’s minds is whether the losing candidate will be able to accept defeat and resist taking their followers to the streets.

Political analyst Dmitry Babich believes the pro-Timoshenko forces are close to admitting defeat and rejects the possibility of another revolution in Ukraine:

“I don’t think another Orange Revolution is possible. Because for an Orange Revolution you need two things: you need about several thousands of activists to come to Kiev and protest and you need financial and moral support from the West. If you don’t have one of these ingredients it won’t work.”

“We have a balanced political system,” said political analyst Aleksey Garan. “It means we have president but the election of the new president doesn’t mean an automatic change of government. So the new president definitely would try to create a new majority in the parliament. But at this point, it is also very intriguing who will be in this majority.”

Editor-in-chief of the Slovo newspaper Viktor Linnik does not think Timoshenko has a chance to overrule the results.

“Her efforts are futile. The people of Ukraine have spoken loud and clear: they want changes in Kiev and in the country, and that's what they got,” Linnik told RT.

Read also: The curtain of the Yulia Tymoshenko project goes down