Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Ukraine election result: Voters react

A supporter of Viktor Yanukovych kisses his portrait
Yanukovych supporters have been celebrating victory on the streets of Kiev

Ukraine's opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych is heading for a narrow victory over his rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in the country's presidential election, according to electoral officials.

Mr Yanukovych has called on Mrs Tymoshenko to step down, but she has refused and is expected to challenge the result.

Here Ukrainian voters react to the projected result of the election run-off and predict what lies in store for Ukraine next.

ANNA KHOMA, 28, UZHGOROD

Anna Khoma

This is a shameful result. Most young and educated Ukrainians will not be happy with a Yanukovych win.

On the other hand, there was no real choice among the candidates in this election.

I supported Mrs Tymoshenko, but she has disappointed many voters who took part in the Orange Revolution or voted for Orange leaders.

During her time as prime minister, she failed to show any real achievements on the path to economic recovery.

While many outside Ukraine seemed concerned about Mr Yanukovych being a pro-Moscow candidate and Mrs Tymoshenko being a pro-Western candidate, this was not really the issue for voters here.

It is all about the economic crisis and this is why people turned to Yanukovych.

If he does now try to align us closer with Russia, I am sure people will make their opinions known to him, as many here, particularly younger people remain pro-Europe.

I am sure Mrs Tymoshenko will not accept this result and she may seek to challenge it in the courts. If unsuccessful, she may even ask people to get out and protest.

But Ukrainians are exhausted after all the political uncertainty. Now we just want to see our economy recover.

DMITRY FEDOTOV, DONETSK

This result highlights the complete failure of the Orange movement.

Yes, for Mr Yanukovych it is a narrow victory, but it is still a victory nonetheless.

We, the people of the Donbass region, have been waiting for this moment for five long years.

You cannot imagine how difficult it was to live under Orange suppression
Dmitry Fedotov, Donetsk

The reign of the Orange movement was a complete failure for the country, but we survived and hope for a brighter future under Mr Yanukovych.

You cannot imagine how difficult it was to live under Orange suppression, when Ukrainians were separated into first and second-rank citizens.

If you spoke Ukrainian, were a Nato supporter and an enemy of Russia, you were referred to as a first-rank Ukrainian, if not you were a second-rank Ukrainian.

The Orange movement's politicians appeared to be simple liars, and in five years did nothing for Ukraine. Even the European leaders stopped supporting them.

Now we are going to knock them down.

ALEXEY TEPLINSKY, 34, KIEV

Alexey Teplinsky

I ticked the third box that allowed me to vote against both candidates.

I didn't like either of them and thought they were were both bad for Ukraine.

However, I predicted a Yanukovych win and that Tymoshenko would try and move the fight from the voting booth to the courts - and it looks like this is what is happening now.

Yulia should accept defeat, but I don't think she will.

So I expect further turmoil and I am worried that there could be trouble and disorder on the streets.

If she asks people to come out and protest, they will, but not in anywhere near the same numbers as they did during the Orange Revolution.

So Ukraine must be allowed to move on. I don't believe a Yanukovych victory simply means we will move closer to Russia.

There are great challenges for him to address domestically, such as the economy and corruption. The economy needs to be his priority, but I don't believe he will tackle corruption.

But I am trying to be realistic and I want to believe in better.

This must be a lesson to Tymoshenko that if she does not perform, she will be replaced by the people.

It is a democratic message, which is quite new to us here of course.

DIANA NEMTSEVA, 31, KIEV

A Yanukovych victory is a huge setback for Ukraine.

It marks a return to the situation we were in in the 1990s, when we were ruled by oligarchs.

Yanukovych is one of those figures, backed and funded by oligarchs.

So I hope Yulia can mount a proper challenge to the result.

The results coming out of the east of the country, such as Donetsk, are absurd, even for areas where he has such big support. So I don't agree with the election monitors who say the vote was free.

Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has refused to quit

I would like to see her demand a recount in those regions.

I also hope she will challenge the results in the courts and I am ready to go out on the streets to support her.

But I hope we can move forward eventually and although I am not optimistic, I hope Yanukovych can remember that half of the country voted against him.

He was put there through democratic means and he must respect the other half who did not vote for him. If he does not do this, I will consider leaving the country.

He must also allow Yulia to remain as prime minister.

So his main challenge is to avoid dividing the country once in power.

This is a bigger challenge to him than the economy. The Orange leaders already did a lot to tackle our economic problems.

We will, however, inevitably become closer with Russia under Yanukovych, which is a bad thing as Russia's military rule in this region has to end.

OLEG, 23, KIEV

I voted for Yanukovych. I think the elections were fair and democratic and this result really reflects the people's true opinion.

The problem is that in the second round a lot of people voted not for a particular candidate, but mostly against another candidate.

So I think Ukraine needs new leaders and I'm sure they will come soon.

Yanukovych today and Yanukovych of five years ago are completely different politicians, and things have changed drastically
Oleg, Kiev

Mrs Tymoshenko should definitely accept the result, as any European politician would do. I think she will concede eventually.

Of course she can try to dispute the results but I don't think that even her supporters think she has won this time.

Ukraine can move forward now. In fact, we are already moving forward with these election results.

As Viktor Yushchenko said: "Ukrainians will be ashamed for their choice but this is democracy."

The elections were free and fair and this is one of the most important achievements of the Orange Revolution, for which they must be credited.

The main goal for us is to keep this freedom and to improve our civil society. I also really don't think Ukraine will move closer to Russia.

The majority of Yanukovych's promises are just to satisfy people living in eastern and southern Ukraine. But eventually we will move slowly towards the EU.

I think that the perception of Yanukovych as a pro-Russian politician is wrong. After all, Yanukovych today and Yanukovych of five years ago are completely different politicians, and things have changed drastically.

And Ukraine has changed too.



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