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Deadline set in Ukraine poll saga
January 18, 2005
Ukraine's Supreme Court has lifted a ban on publication of the presidential election results.

This paves the way for the inauguration of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko as the country's new president.

The move came as the court continued to hear a last-ditch appeal by the defeated candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, who wants the election annulled.

Publication of the results in official newspapers was barred while his appeals were being considered.

"The court has decided ... to set a limit of 19 January, 2005,to the preventive measure," Reuters quotes court chairman Anatoly Yarema as saying.

This means the ban on publication expires on Wednesday, and the results will appear in the press on Thursday.

According to Ukrainian law, the results of the election become valid once they are published by the government newspaper.

Legal wrangling

Mr Yushchenko, seen as pro-Western, won the 26 December election by more than 2.2 million ballots, with 52% of the vote.

Supporters of Mr Yanukovych, who stepped down as prime minister at the end of 2004, have questioned the court's objectivity.

"This is an unprecedented step, which shows that the other side does not need a fair legal process," said Nestor Shufrich, who represented Mr Yanukovych in court.

The controversial Ukrainian election was accompanied by huge protests in Kiev, which flared after Mr Yanukovych was proclaimed winner of the second round in November.

Mr Yushchenko's supporters said the results had been rigged and the second round was re-run after the Supreme Court upheld their claim.

After losing the re-run, Mr Yanukovych, seen as closer to Moscow, in turn claimed widespread irregularities and demanded that the results be annulled.


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