|About 3,000 supporters of Viktor Yanukovych rallied yesterday to defend the election results. (Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images)|
KIEV - Ukraine’s prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, plans to challenge the results of the presidential runoff that opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych appears to have won, her campaign said yesterday.
Tymoshenko has canceled two appearances since the polls closed Sunday night. Her allies say she will not concede until appeals have run their course and recounts have taken place at a number of polling stations.
The official announcement of the results is expected today. Thousands of Yanukovych supporters are gathering outside the headquarters of the Central Election Commission in a rally organized to defend the results of the election.
According to the election commission, Yanukovych leads Sunday’s vote by 3.5 percentage points, with only 0.02 percent of precincts left to count.
Unlike past elections in Ukraine, this vote has been praised by international monitors as free and fair. The US Embassy hailed it as “another step in the consolidation of Ukraine’s democracy.’’
“We will recognize defeat only after a decision by the courts,’’ said Andriy Shkil, a prominent member of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc in Parliament. “We will appeal both the preparation and conduct of the election.’’
The respected Ukrainskaya Pravda website and Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency said Tymoshenko told party officials she will “never recognize’’ the legitimacy of Sunday’s runoff and will demand a third round of voting.