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Europe

Appeal Delays Inauguration in Ukraine

With the tables turned in the Ukraine presidential race and opposition candidate Yuschenko waiting to take the oath of office, defeated candidate Yanukovych is pulling out the delaying tactics.

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Yushchenko still has to wait to accept toasts to his presidency

Hopes that the long-awaited inauguration of Viktor Yushchenko would be staged this week have again been dashed. His opponent, Viktor Yanukovych, has once again used the courts to put off the transfer of power.

Stall tactics

The inauguration can only take place after the election result is published in one of the two official newspapers, and the Ukraine Supreme Court has barred both papers from printing it until former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has a last chance to appeal the outcome in a court of law.

Wahlkundgebung mit Juschtschenko und Ruslana

Yushchenko declaring victory, with Ukrainian pop star.

But how soon Yanukovych's latest appeal will finally be filed and decided on is uncertain.

Yushchenko was finally declared the winner of the Ukraine presidential election on Jan. 10, two weeks after the re-run of an earlier election that was declared invalid because of voter fraud. But Yanukovych -- who agreed to a new election only after his hand was forced by a massive popular uprising – has managed to hold up the poll result at every turn.

Currently, Yanukovych is appealing the election, claiming it was invalid.

'We will never be satisfied'

“If the Court fails to comply with our demands, we have the right to act within the framework of our legislation," Yanukovych said. "We’ll appeal to the European Court of Justice. We will never be satisfied with the result of the so-called third round of the election.”

Stimmabgabe von Viktor Janukowitsch während der Neuwahlen in der Ukraine

Yanukovych leaving voting booth during the repeat election in December

All the former prime minister's previous appeals have been quickly dismissed by the court. But it cannot rule on a complaint until he officially submits it. And Yanukovych’s representative in the election commission, Nestor Shufritch, said he thinks Ukraine’s weary voters may be called upon yet again to go to the polls.

“If the Supreme Court does makes a legal rather than a political decision I am personally convinced that, unfortunately, a new election process will be necessary,” Sufritch said.

Swiss lawyers

It is not quite clear what is driving Yanukovych in his refusal to cede the election. But the Yanukovych camp doesn't seeem to be running out of energy – or money. They are paying Swiss lawyers for advice.

The lawyers had promised to hand over to the Supreme Court on Wednesday some 800 files allegedly containing proof of vote rigging in the latest poll, but the process has been delayed.

Yanukovych now has until Friday to submit the evidence. If the court accepts the complaint, it can take up to 10 days to examine it, which would delay Yushchenko’s inauguration still further.

Olive branch from Russia

But Andrei Shkill, parliamentary deputy from president-elect Yushchenko’s party, said he is optimistic that his candidate will someday take office.

“The European Court of Justice, the Swiss lawyers, they are just obvious attempts to make Yanukovych and his crew important," he said. "To show there are people who refuse to accept the election result and intend to challenge it."

Moscow – which strongly supported Yanukovych's candidacy -- meanwhile has broken its frosty silence over Yuschenko's victory. The Russians finally held out an olive branch when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters on a visit to Washington that his country was ready to cooperate with the newly elected leadership of Ukraine. Ivanov, whose comments indicate Russia wants to retain its influence over the ex-Soviet state, noted Yushchenko had announced his first foreign visit would be to Moscow.

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