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The Tymoshenko endgame: compromise?

Analysis: Yulia Tymoshenko has challenged Ukraine's election results, but has little hope of succeeding.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waves as she leaves the court building in central Kiev on Feb. 16, 2010. Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday set Feb. 25 for the inauguration of Viktor Yanukovych as president while Tymoshenko launched a challenge to his election in court. (Alexander Prokopenko/Pool/Reuters)

KIEV, Ukraine — What is Yulia Tymoshenko’s endgame? 

The combative Ukrainian prime minister claimed in a televised address on Saturday evening that she lost the country’s Feb. 7 presidential run-off election only through fraud and would contest the results in court. More than 1 million votes were falsified, she said. 

The following day, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission proclaimed her challenger, opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, the official victor by a margin of 3.5 percent — 48.95 percent to 45.47 percent — or more than 800,000 votes.

Both camps are rushing now to outflank the other. Tymoshenko’s supporters say that their aim is to annul the election outcome before Yanukovych is sworn in as president. Tymoshenko herself presented evidence — including nine volumes of documents and video recordings — to the deciding legal body today.

On the same day, however, parliament, led by Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in a thin majority, set his inauguration for Feb. 25.

It appears at first glance that Tymoshenko is prepared to pull out all the stops to prevent her longtime rival Yanukovych from claiming his victory. The alternative, she claimed, was “a country where dictatorship and lawlessness reign.” 

“I want to clearly state: Yanukovych is not our president,” she said in her live televised statement over the weekend. “And no matter how the situation unfolds, he will never become the legitimately elected president of Ukraine.” 

But some observers believe that Tymoshenko is in fact bluffing, as she understands that she cannot overturn the election results. 

Part of her problem is that international community is already lining up behind Yanukovych’s presidency. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, the main international election monitoring groups, reported no major violations and called the contest “impressive display of democratic elections.” 

They distanced themselves from Tymoshenko post-election as well, issuing a statement that the organization, contrary to the prime minister’s claims, would not support her claims in court.