Last months' elections in Ukraine left the ruling Party of Regions in power, though the opposition Fatherland party of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was close behind in second place.
European observers expressed concern about the "abuse of power and the excessive role of money in this election." Tymoshenko, a former revolutionary leader jailed after a conviction on corruption charges, launched a hunger strike to protest the conduct of the elections.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov brushed off criticism of the elections. The central government has nothing to do with electoral commissions or the reporting of results, he said.
"Neither democratic norms nor legal democratic procedures were in fact violated," he was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.
Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of Kiev to protest the results. A united opposition slate called for a recount of the votes from some polling stations, suggesting they may press further for early voting.
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