Ukraine’s key election ‘rigged’

Ukraine opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, has accused the authorities of rigging last week’s fiercely fought presidential election. “I do not trust the Central Electoral Commission,” Mr Yushchenko said, and urged his supporters to continue with their mass protests.

With 75 per cent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych had won 49 per cent, against Mr Yshchenko’s 48 per cent, the electoral commission said. However, several exit polls had earlier shown pro-western Mr Yushchenko ahead of the Moscow-backed prime minister.

Both sides have complained of problems during the voting over the weekend. The authorities are investigating the killing of a policeman who was guarding ballot papers in a village in central Ukraine. As yet, the motive for the killing is not known and police have said that eight ballot boxes were set on fire in a western pro-Yushchenko part of Ukraine during voting. Both the US and European Union say future relations with the Ukraine depend on the vote being conducted fairly and a democratically elected leader being chosen.