KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s Election Commission declared Western-leaning reformer Viktor Yushchenko the winner of the presidential vote late Monday, putting the nation on the verge of resolving its protracted election.
The commission’s statement must be accepted by the Supreme Court and published in two official newspapers before Yushchenko can be inaugurated, leaving supporters of Kremlin-favored Viktor Yanukovych a slender window for filing legal complaints against the results.
The commission’s announcement included the final tally in an election that saw the leading candidate poisoned with an industrial pollutant that left his face grossly disfigured, and led to sustained street protests in the capital Kiev after a fraud-plagued first attempt at a runoff election on Nov. 21.
The official results of the Dec. 26 revote showed Yushchenko with 51.99 percent of the votes and Yanukovych with 44.2 percent.
Yanukovych, who stepped down as prime minister last week, had been declared the winner of the Nov. 21 election, only to see his victory overturned by the Supreme Court after weeks street protests that became known as the “Orange Revolution” after the campaign color of Yushchenko.
Yanukovych has vowed to use all possible legal avenues to overturn the revote — but his chances seemed to diminish earlier Monday when the court rejected eight complaints by Yanukovych’s campaign before the commission’s announcement.
Yanukovych’s campaign manager Taras Chornovyl said a hefty legal action consisting of some 500 volumes was being prepared to prove widespread fraud in last month’s revote.
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