- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2010

KIEV — Viktor Yanukovych will be inaugurated Feb. 25 as the new president of Ukraine despite Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s challenges to the vote, a party official said Monday.

Anna German, the vice chairwoman of Mr. Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, also told the Associated Press that Mr. Yanukovych is considering offering the prime minister’s office to banking magnate Sergei Tigipko — one of his rivals in the presidential ballot — or several other candidates.

“No one has been given an offer, but he is one on a list of candidates for the post,” Ms. German said.

Mr. Tigipko came in third place during the first round of the presidential ballot on Jan. 17 and has said he would accept the prime minister’s job if it were offered.

Ms. Tymoshenko, who lost the presidential runoff vote Feb. 7, has refused to concede defeat. Alleging fraud, she is mounting a series of court challenges to the election results.

Ms. German on Monday urged Ms. Tymoshenko to resign her post as prime minister and to stop “flooding” the courts with complaints against the election, which international observers have deemed free and fair.

“This is just a shortsighted attempt to delay the ascension to power of our new president,” Ms. German said.

Mr. Yanukovych’s party is in talks with other parties to create a new coalition in Parliament that could oust Ms. Tymoshenko from her post.

If they succeed, it would be a further repudiation of the pro-Western Orange Revolution of 2004. The Orange movement that year protested the presidential vote, and the courts overturned Mr. Yanukovych’s election victory because of widespread fraud. A revote brought Ms. Tymoshenko and outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko to power on the back of massive street demonstrations.

But the two Orange leaders quickly fell out, contributing to a paralyzed political system. Now some deputies from Mr. Yushchenko’s parliamentary faction are expected to join in a coalition with Mr. Yanukovych’s party.

Ms. German said the Party of Regions had decided to delay the inauguration so that Mr. Yushchenko, once their political adversary, could celebrate his 56th birthday on Feb. 23 while still in office.

Also Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued an invitation for Mr. Yanukovych to visit in the near future. The pro-Russian Mr. Yanukovych is much more palatable to Moscow than Mr. Yushchenko, who pushed hard for Ukraine to become more integrated with Western Europe.

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