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Yanukovich says opponent won't take office

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Ukraine's prime minister says even if his opponent wins this month's presidential election he will never assume office.

Victor Yanukovich, the government-backed candidate in a Nov. 21 runoff against Viktor Yushchenko -- since annulled by the nation's highest court and widely denounced internationally as fraudulent -- said illegal demonstrations violated the constitution to orchestrate his defeat, the Washington Post reported Friday.

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"Even if Mr. Yushchenko wins, he will never be a president of Ukraine," Yanukovich said Thursday. "The people who voted for me, they will never recognize him. They are talking about it even now."

Yanukovich also warned he might not be able to control supporters who are already mobilizing to launch a campaign of street protests in the capital in the event of a Dec. 26 win by Yushchenko.

"If this legal nihilism continues, I will not be able to stop people," he said.

His comments cast doubt on the government's willingness to facilitate a credible election or tolerate the popular election for a pro-western candidate.

Hundreds of thousands of Yushchenko supporters turned out in the days after that Nov. 21 vote, sometimes blockading government buildings.

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