KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian opposition parties on Tuesday appeared split over whether to recognize the ruling party's victory in a parliamentary election denounced as unfair by international observers.
President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions was poised to retain a majority in the 450-seat Parliament, according to nearly final official results, but it was not clear how many of those seats Yanukovych's loyalists will get.
International monitors and Western governments have denounced Sunday's presidential election as unfair and a setback for democracy because of the jailing of top opposition leaders, lack of transparency in vote counting and other problems.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Sunday's elections were a "step backward for Ukrainian democracy." ''The people of Ukraine deserve so much better," she said Tuesday, speaking in Bosnia alongside the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
While Party of Regions swept individual races across the country, the opposition parties, which include The Fatherland party led by jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, made a strong showing in the portion of the race where people vote for the parties. Some analysts predicted that the opposition would be able to mount a stronger challenge to Yanukovych than the current chamber.
The opposition, however, appeared divided over its immediate strategy, raising doubts about their ability to challenge the government.
Tymoshenko's party alleged thousands of violations, including vote-buying and multiple voting, and she launched another hunger strike over the alleged fraud.
The far-right nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party is also challenging the results at scores of voting stations and has threatened street protests.
Tymoshenko's and Svoboda's key potential partner, world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko's Udar (Punch) party, said it will recognize the results and is hoping to create a united opposition front in Parliament.
Bradley Klapper contributed to this report from Sarajevo, Bosnia.