Yushchenko calls for new blockade after defeated prime minister returns to work
KIEV, Ukraine – Viktor Yushchenko, fresh from his victory in Ukraine’s disputed presidential race, called on his supporters Tuesday to blockade the Cabinet of Ministers building to prevent his opponent from holding a government session.
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin favorite who has come under increasing pressure to concede defeat to Yushchenko, returned to work Tuesday after taking a vacation to campaign ahead of Sunday’s vote.
The opposition blockaded government buildings for weeks after the fraudulent Nov. 21 vote, preventing Yanukovych and other officials from entering their offices. The country’s high court annulled that ballot, forcing Sunday’s rerun.
“I ask everyone, especially the people in the tent camp, to strengthen the blockade of the government,” Yushchenko said, calling for his supporters to turn out on today.
Oleksandr Ternavsky, Yanukovych’s spokesman, said the session would go ahead as planned, and called Yushchenko’s move “completely illegal.”
Under Ukrainian law, the prime minister can retain his post until replaced by the incumbent president or the president-elect.
Yushchenko won 51.99 percent to Yanukovych’s 44.19 percent in Sunday’s court-ordered rerun of the vote, according to a final preliminary vote tally – a difference of about 2.3 million votes.
“In principle, we have the result,” said Yaroslav Davydovych, head of the Central Election Commission. “I don’t know who can doubt it.”
Yanukovych has said he will challenge the results in Ukraine’s Supreme Court. He said his campaign team had nearly 5,000 complaints about how the voting was conducted and claimed that 4.8 million people – more than double the margin of Yushchenko’s victory – had been unable to cast ballots, among them disabled and elderly voters.