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International observers denounce Ukraine elections

  • International observers have denounced Ukraine's election, saying it has been tarnished by "the abuse of power and the excessive role of money".

    The statement from the regional security body OSCE was issued on Monday as early results signified a win for President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions.

    Opposition leader and ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko remains in prison and has launched a hunger strike in protest of alleged vote rigging.

    "One should not have to visit a prison to hear from leading political figures," the OSCE said.

    "Considering the abuse of power, and the excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine," said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, a Swedish MP who headed the OSCE mission.

    The criticism is a stark contrast with the international observers' findings on the country’s February 2010 presidential election, deemed to have been transparent and an "impressive display" of democracy.

    Yanukovych defeated Tymoshenko to win that election.

    With nearly two-thirds of votes counted, the AFP news agency reports Yanukovych's Party of the Regions has 34.2 percent of party list votes, compared with 22.5 percent for Tymoshenko's party.

    The Party of the Regions is also predicted to take 114 of 225 single-mandate seats, which would secure a majority in the 450-seat assembly.