KIEV, Ukraine—Viktor Yanukovych won Ukraine’s presidential election, near-complete returns showed Monday, a surprise sequel to the 2004 Orange Revolution that had cast him aside as an autocratic machine-politician and tool of Russian imperial designs.
The opposition leader received 48.79% of the ballots cast Sunday, compared with 45.63% for his Orange rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, election officials reported in a count based on 99.38% of votes.
Mr. Yanukovych proclaimed victory. But Ms. Tymoshenko postponed a news conference and didn’t comment Monday. A team of observers led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe endorsed the vote as an “impressive display” of democracy and called on Ukraine’s leaders to “listen to the people’s verdict.”
Opposition leader Yanukovich appeared to win Sunday’s election for president but challenges are expected from Yulia Tymoshenko. Video courtesy of Reuters.
Mr. Yanukovych’s unlikely comeback is a story of reinvention. Bowed by the massive street protests that overturned his tainted election in the 2004 presidential race, he adopted the rules and rhetoric of democracy—and advice from an American political consultant—to maneuver his way back to power.
By running in a series of fair elections made possible by those protests, and prevailing Sunday, the villain of the Orange Revolution has became its unintended beneficiary. Now the question is how he will govern.