KIEV, Ukraine – The winner of Ukraine’s presidential election ordered his supporters Friday to raze the tent camp in Kiev that had become a dramatic symbol of his victory over a Kremlin-backed opponent, saying conditions had become unsanitary.
But the camp’s occupants vowed to stay until Viktor Yushchenko is inaugurated – and when that might be is in doubt after his vanquished opponent, ex-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, filed an elaborate appeal with the Supreme Court contesting the election results.
Yushchenko’s order to his supporters showed his confidence the court will reject Yanukovych’s filing. The appeal asked for a repeat of the Dec. 26 presidential election, which itself was a rerun of a November vote in which Yanukovych was declared the winner. The Nov. 21 vote was annulled by the high court because of fraud.
Court spokeswoman Natalia Sarapyn said the court would begin considering the appeal on Monday and that the law says the process should take no more than five days.
The camp, which was vibrant and packed with thousands in the early days of the protests of the November election results, has deteriorated, with the number of its residents dwindling and sanitation conditions deteriorating.
Despite the order, camp residents vowed Friday to stay in their tents until Yushchenko’s inauguration “because he didn’t specify the timeline” for striking the camp, said Andriy Khomenko, the leader of some 1,000 pro-Yushchenko stalwarts.
“We want to put a logical end to what we have done,” Khomenko said.
Yushchenko, in calling for the camp’s closure, hinted at nostalgia for the heady first days of the protests, when crowds topping 100,000 and decked out in his campaign color jammed downtown Kiev, dancing and cheering.
“It’s a pity that the camp as a symbol of this process is already history … but on the other hand, we are only beginning the Orange Revolution,” Yushchenko said.
Yanukovych’s new complaint, delivered to the court Friday morning, was based on 621 volumes of documents and 233 videotapes.
“We believe we can win,” campaign manager Taras Chornovyl told reporters.
Yushchenko said, however, that the vote was “won fair and square.”
Nestor Shufrich, Yanukovych’s representative on the Central Election Commission, said that the court had “temporarily rejected” the videotapes as evidence “without any explanation.”
Three lawyers from Switzerland and five from Ukraine will represent Yanukovych in court, Shufrich said.
“We need foreign lawyers because we intend to appeal not only to Ukrainian but to European institutions, as well,” he said.
Oleksandr Lytvynenko, an analyst with the Kiev-based Razumkov think tank, said that Yanukovych’s appeal was simply intended to delay the inauguration of Yushchenko, who was declared the winner of the election on Monday but cannot take office until the high court reviews his rival’s complaints.
Already Friday, prosecutor Oleksandr Onishchenko said a probe into 584 of Yanukovych’s complaints in which people alleged they could not vote because of the provision showed that “most of them were forged.”