Ukraine PM breaks election silence

KIEV: Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko today broke more than three days of silence after her defeat in presidential elections, slamming her rival but still not bowing to mounting pressure to concede.

Speaking before a cabinet meeting with her golden hair braid tied as usual on her head, Tymoshenko accused Yanukovich of deceiving Ukraine with campaign promises and made no mention of her election defeat. Yanukovich beat Tymoshenko by almost 3.5 per cent in Sunday’s vote but the prime minister’s party has alleged that substantial fraud casts doubt on the outcome, raising fears of a prolonged political crisis in the country. “Today it is clear that no one from the Yanukovich team is intending to raise social standards. This was just PR,” the prime minister told the cabinet meeting.

“Already after the elections, the deceptions of the campaign are starting up again and people need to take this into account in their future political decisions,” she added. The last public comments by Tymoshenko had been on Sunday night after the publication of exit polls. She subsequently disappeared from public view.

Although Tymoshenko’s team says widespread violations took place, particularly in Yanukovich’s eastern Ukraine strongholds, international observers hailed the vote as a fair and clean.

Yanukovich has called on Tymoshenko to acknowledge the will of the people and resign as prime minister. But her right-hand man Olexander Turchynov said the government had no intention of resigning.

“The government will resign of its own accord only if parliament is changed (after elections). As far as I know there has been no news about this.”