Kiev: Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko broke more than three days of silence after her defeat in presidential elections, slamming her rival but still defying mounting pressure to concede.
Speaking before a cabinet meeting with her golden hair braid tied as usual on her head, Tymoshenko made no mention of the election result and instead accused winning candidate Viktor Yanukovych of deceiving Ukraine with promises.
Yanukovych beat Tymoshenko by almost 3.5 percent in Sunday's vote but the prime minister's party has alleged that substantial fraud casts doubt on the outcome, raising fears of a prolonged political crisis in the country.
However international observers and Western states hailed the vote as fair and clean.
With political tensions showing no sign of slackening, thousands of Yanukovych supporters maintained a picket outside the central election commission Thursday with the aim of ensuring the results were not changed.
"Today it is clear that no one from the Yanukovych team is intending to raise social standards. This was just PR," Tymoshenko told her cabinet, commenting on a parliamentary bill Yanukovych's party had failed to support.
"Already after the elections, the deceptions of the campaign are starting up again," she added.
The last public comments by Tymoshenko had been on Sunday night after the publication of exit polls. She subsequently disappeared from public view.
Tymoshenko made no comment on the elections themselves. But the very fact of holding a cabinet meeting will be seen as an act of defiance after Yanukovych told her to acknowledge the will of the people and resign as prime minister.
However the deputy head of Yanukovych's Regions Party, Borys Kolesnykov, shrugged off her defiance as meaningless.
"There is no article in the Ukrainian constitution that specifies that the results of an election have to be acknowledged by Yulia Tymoshenko," he said.
But the prime minister's right-hand man Olexander Turchynov said the government had no intention of resigning.
First Published: Friday, February 12, 2010, 10:49