Viktor Yanukovich has just been given leave to appeal the Ukrainian Supreme Court’s verdict that he had lost last year’s Presidential Election.
The voluminous appeal lodged on Friday – and delivered in a minivan – urged the court to order a re-vote.
Mr Yushchenko cannot be sworn in until the court rules on all complaints.
Of course, Yanukovich is right – there were massive irregularities in the vote. They may have been less than in the previous round, but they still happened. They may have been mostly carried out by Yanukovich supporters, but plenty were carried out by Yushchenko supporters too, I’d bet.
That won’t change the outcome of the elction, though. There is simply, in reality, no way on earth that the Supreme Court will reverse its decision to award the election to Yushchenko. Legal issues really aren’t important here – what matters is the relative power of both the people of Ukraine who are prepared to come out onto the streets, and the relative power of each candidate’s international backers. And, on that score, Yushchenko is comfortably ahead.
Having said that, he isn’t so far ahead that he can sit back and relax. Yanukovich still got around 44% of the December’s revote. And those votes didn’t all come out of a stuffed ballot box. People genuinely do want him as their President. Many of them believe in him just as much as those who believe in Yushchenko. Like Yushchenko supporters, they are prepared to come out onto the streets in large numbers and protest too – 8,000 people are currently protesting in the streets of Donetsk, and they’ve even set up their own tent city.
No, they can’t overturn the result of the election. Yushchenko has won that. But they can make life very difficult for him. Without their co-operation he simply cannot govern large regions of Ukraine, whether he has the legal right to govern or not. And that doesn’t bode well for the future of Ukraine as one state.
(Hat tip: Publius Pundit for the news of protests in Donetsk).