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Yanukovych Is Greeted as the Winner in Ukraine

Obama and other world leaders have congratulated Viktor Yanukovych as the next president. But Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has refused to concede defeat. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

World leaders have been congratulating Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine's next president.

Among Western leaders, President Obama phoned on Thursday to welcome the opposition leader. The White House said he called the election a peaceful expression of the political will of Ukrainian voters to strengthen democracy.

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Official results are expected by Wednesday. A final vote count showed that Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko lost by forty-five and a half percent to forty-nine percent last Sunday. But she refused to accept defeat and resisted calls to resign as prime minister. Her aides have said she planned to challenge the election results in court, and not concede defeat until appeals are completed.

She has accused Yanukovych supporters of cheating in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. On Thursday she told the cabinet that Viktor Yanukovych had already broken campaign promises to improve living conditions for Ukrainians. She criticized his party for missing a chance to vote in parliament to increase social spending.

His Party of Regions has been negotiating to form a new coalition in parliament. A long political battle could worsen the economic troubles of the former Soviet republic. Last year the International Monetary Fund suspended sixteen billion dollars in lending to Ukraine over the issue of financial restraint.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday that the elections were "free, fair and democratic." That was a change from past elections in Ukraine. A public opinion survey by the Horshenin Institute found that more than sixty-eight percent of Ukrainians trusted the results.

Outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko is pro-Western. He did not receive enough votes in the first round of elections last month to qualify for the run-off election last Sunday.

Six years ago, Viktor Yanukovych won the presidency, then lost it. Official results showed him the winner over Viktor Yushchenko. But reports of election fraud led to huge protests known as the Orange Revolution. A new election took place and Viktor Yushchenko won.

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He took office in January of two thousand five with Yulia Tymoshenko as his prime minister. But their partnership ended in disputes over presidential powers.

Yulia Tymoshenko helped lead the Orange Revolution, named for the color worn by protesters. The protests brought Western-like democracy to Ukraine for the first time.

Some people say the results of Sunday's election suggest that Ukrainians have rejected the Orange Revolution. But others point to the reported fairness of the election itself as evidence that the spirit of the revolution lives on.

Viktor Yanukovych supports closer relations between Ukraine and Russia. Russia welcomed his election. But political observers noted that it was very different from the election of Dmitri Medvedev as Russia's president two years ago. In that election there was never any question who the winner would be.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.