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Ukraine's President Yushchenko accepts election defeat

Viktor Yuschenko in Kiev, Ukraine, 20 January 2010
Yushchenko said neither Tymoshenko nor Yanukovych were 'decent' choices

Viktor Yushchenko has accepted defeat in Ukraine's presidential election, but says he will not support either candidate in next month's run-off vote.

The president said PM Yulia Tymoshenko and opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych both lacked democratic principles.

Mr Yanukovych won 35% in Sunday's poll and Mrs Tymoshenko took 25% compared to just 5.5% for Mr Yushchenko.

The one-time hero of 2004's Orange Revolution came fifth out of a field of 18 candidates.

But he said Ukraine did not have a "decent choice" to replace him.

"Both candidates... are alienated from national, European and democratic values," he said.

But he praised the conduct of the poll, which international monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) gave the election a clean bill of health.

Close to Russia?

Mr Yanukovych will now face Mrs Tymoshenko in a run-off vote on 7 February. Analysts expect Mrs Tymoshenko to pick up more votes in what could be a very close race.

On opposing sides of the Orange Revolution in 2004 and 2005, both candidates now favour closer ties with Russia.

Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev, Ukraine, 17 January 2010
Mrs Tymoshenko is expected to pick up more votes in the second round

Mr Yanukovych's victory in the last presidential election in 2004 was challenged by the Orange Revolution, and later annulled by the Supreme Court.

Mr Yushchenko and Mrs Tymoshenko were allies in the Orange movement, and became president and prime minister in its aftermath, but have since become bitter rivals.

Meanwhile disillusionment has grown among voters over the failure to tackle corruption in the intervening years, and to push forward links with the EU, says the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Kiev.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
The Economist Ukraine's election: Five years on in Kiev - 54 mins ago
Yahoo! via Wap Ukraine president backs neither candidate in vote - 24 hrs ago
Washington PostUkraine pres: No support for either candidate - 26 hrs ago
Reuters UK Ukraine presidential rivals fight for floating votes - 27 hrs ago
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