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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Clears Path to Yushchenko Victory

KIEV -- Ukraine's Supreme Court on Monday turned down an array of appeals against last month's presidential election results filed by allies of Viktor Yanukovych, the former prime minister who preliminary results show lost to opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

The Central Elections Commission convened late Monday to discuss issuing final results that would declare Yushchenko the winner and open the way to his being inaugurated.

Documents distributed to reporters showed the commission would consider endorsing final results, in which Yushchenko got 51.99 percent of the votes against Yanukovych's 44.2 percent.

The results are from a Dec. 26 vote that was a court-ordered rerun of a Nov. 21 ballot that was annulled after allegations that massive fraud had given Yanukovych the victory.

Yanukovych stepped down as prime minister after last month's election, but has not conceded defeat and is vowing to pursue all possible avenues of challenging the revote's results.

The court at midday announced it had rejected four appeals, and Central Elections Commission head Yaroslav Davydovych later said the court had turned down four other complaints. The rejections put Yanukovych in an increasingly tight corner.

"There are no more appeals" in the Supreme Court, Davydovych said.

The Central Elections Commission also rejected two Yanukovych complaints Monday because they were filed after the deadline.

Yushchenko has not been declared the official winner. He can be inaugurated only after final results are announced and then published in the government gazette.

Yanukovych's camp is preparing a 500-volume complaint to the Supreme Court that "would prove massive election fraud in the rerun," said Yanukovych campaign manager Taras Chornovyl said earlier Monday.

"Our complaint will be the mirror image of Yushchenko's appeal, and it would prove that the establishment of vote results is impossible due to fraud," Chornovyl said.

He claimed however, that Yushchenko's allies in the commission will try to "speed up" the announcement of final election results before Yanukovych's lawyers have time to submit their complaints.

Chornovyl also threatened that angry Yanukovych supporters from his stronghold eastern Donetsk region could pour into Kiev to protest an elections commission declaration of Yushchenko as the winner.

"We will not turn to violent actions, but we are hearing about radical moves from Donetsk. We will not be able to control the people," he said.

Meanwhile, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Yushchenko's campaign manager warned that all responsible for the election fraud will face justice.

"Not only the people who executed it, we will reveal the names of the organizers," he told reporters.

 President Leonid Kuchma on Monday ordered the foreign and defense ministries to develop a plan for withdrawing Ukraine's troops from Iraq within the first half of the year, a statement from the president's office said. Ukraine, whose 1,650 troops are the fourth-largest contingent in the U.S.-led military operation in Iraq, has previously expressed intentions to withdraw this year, but the order speeds up the apparent timetable.

The order came a day after eight Ukrainian soldiers died in an explosion at an ammunition dump in Iraq, which was reported as an accident rather than as the result of hostile action.

 President Vladimir Putin, making his first public comments on the revote, said Friday he hoped the country would move from rhetoric to pragmatism, news agencies reported.

The reproving tone of Putin's remarks -- made after a meeting with Ukrainian parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn at Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow -- indicated continued Kremlin discomfort with Yushchenko.

"I really hope that once the election process in Ukraine is completed, the place of campaign rhetoric will be occupied by pragmatic views in the interests of economic development and improvement of the people's living standards," Putin said, Interfax reported.

 U.S. President George W. Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili agreed in a telephone call Thursday that democracy in Ukraine needs to be bolstered. Saakashvili vacationed in Ukraine's western Carpathian Mountains last week with Yushchenko.