Ukraine Power Struggle Continues

Viktor Yushchenko (search), the winner of Ukraine's hotly contested presidential race, said Friday that he had ordered protesters to remove the tent camp in downtown Kiev, and the campaign team of his rival Viktor Yanukovych (search) filed its appeal of the election results with the Supreme Court.

"Unfortunately, yesterday I had to sign the order (to lift the tent camp)," Yushchenko told reporters.

The move symbolizes Yushchenko's confidence that the Supreme Court will reject Yanukovych's appeal, which urges the court to order a revote of the Dec. 26 presidential election. Camp residents had vowed to stay in their tents until Yushchenko's inauguration.

Yushchenko said be believes that the so-called Orange Revolution (search), a wave of protests that followed the fraudulent Nov. 21 runoff for the presidency, is not over. The revolution forced the Supreme Court to annul the results of that round.

"It's a pity that the camp as a symbol of this process is already history ... but on the other hand, we are only beginning the Orange Revolution," Yushchenko said.

The court, along with Ukraine's election commission, has already rejected an array of appeals from Yanukovych's team.

Yanukovych's new complaint, delivered to the court on Friday morning, was based on 621 volumes of documents and 233 videotapes.

"We believe we can win," campaign manager Taras Chornovyl told reporters.

Nestor Shufrich, Yanukovych's representative on the Central Election Commission, filed the complaint along with other members of the losing candidate's team. He said that the court had "temporarily rejected" the videotapes as evidence "without any explanation."

Three lawyers from Switzerland and five from Ukraine will represent Yanukovych in court, Shufrich said.

"We need foreign lawyers because we intend to appeal not only to Ukrainian but to European institutions, as well," he said.

Oleksandr Lytvynenko, an analyst with the Kiev-based Razumkov think tank, said that Yanukovych's appeal was simply intended to delay the inauguration of Yushchenko, who was declared the winner of the election on Monday but cannot be inducted into office until the high court reviews his rival's complaints.

"However, the appeal itself will likely yield no political or legal results," Lytvynenko predicted.

Shufrich warned that Yanukovych's backers would launch nationwide protests in case the court rules against him. As he spoke, about a dozen protesters waving Yanukovych's white-and-blue campaign flags rallied in front of the Supreme Court.

Svetlana Kustova, who is representing Yushchenko in the court, called Yanukovych's complaint "meaningless" because "the vote was conducted without violations."

"Yanukovych is trying to imitate Yushchenko's moves but only in appearance, not in substance," she said.

Chornovyl said that the appeal would focus on an electoral reform enacted after the Nov. 21 vote that blocked absentee ballots and home voting — mechanisms that allegedly had been a prime source of voting abuse.

That legal provision was overturned by the Constitutional Court only a day before the Dec. 26 balloting, leaving little time for some elderly and ailing Ukrainians to make voting arrangements.