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Ukrainian presidential election leads to a coup


Erikl

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Ukrainian presidential election leads to coup d'etat

11/22/2004 11:32

The two presidential candidates receive almost the same number of votes

Ukrainian electoral committees have analyzed 75.24 percent of ballot papers. According to preliminary information, Viktor Yanukovich takes an insignificant advantage of Viktor Yushchenko with 48.65% against 47.72%. The Central Electoral Committee of Ukraine said, Yanukovich received 10 million 266 thousand 490 votes, whereas Yushchenko enjoyed 9 million 965 thousand 885 votes.

When the first results of the presidential election were announced in Ukraine at 03:00 Moscow times, Viktor Yushchenko left the press room of the Central Electoral Committee in silence. He told reporters later that he did not trust the election results as exposed by the Ukrainian Central Electoral Committee. Viktor Yushchenko called upon the Ukrainian citizens to organize a meeting of protest on Monday morning: "We do not trust the work of the Central Electoral Committee and the results that they obtain on the base of falsified documents," Yushchenko was quoted as saying.

The turnout at the second stage of the presidential election in Ukraine made up 79 percent, the chairman of the national Central Electoral Committee, Sergei Kivalov said. The turnout during the first stage of the election made up 74.56 percent, he added. Only three percent of Ukrainians voted against the two candidates.

Viktor Yanukovich's headquarters has announced the victory of their candidate. "The preliminary calculation of votes gives every reason to say that Viktor Yanukovich has 3.4-3.5% more votes than his rival, Viktor Yushchenko," the chairman of Yanokovich's headquarters, Sergei Tigipko said. "The sooner the final results are announced, the faster the country returns to its normal life. We all are tired of this uncertainty. We will agree upon the final results of the presidential election, no matter who is named the winner," he added.

Presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko intends to apply to the European Parliament, the OSCE and the EU in connection with falsifications of the presidential election in Ukraine. "We will prepare a special address to the European Parliament, the OSCE, the European Union and the majority of countries of the world," Yushchenko stated in Kiev. According to Yushchenko, the fundamental right of Ukrainian citizens has been violated in Ukraine, which gives him a reason to attract the attention of the international community to the issue.

"The coup d'etat has started in the Donetsk region, at Yanukovich's headquarters. It is just a question of time, which surprises that team has prepared," Viktor Yushchenko said. He stressed out that he made no doubt about his victory at the Ukrainian election.

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Presidential election to split the Ukrainian society

11/23/2004 12:01

The current situation in Ukraine is very reminiscent to the one that we witnessed in Georgia a year ago

The situation after the presidential election in Ukraine is developing according to a well-known scenario. The Ukrainian opposition with Viktor Yushchenko at the head is not going to acknowledge the results of the voting and is calling upon their followers to hold actions of protest with only one goal - to stand up for the choice and the will of the nation. According to Yushchenko, the choice and the will of the nation is about his own election for the position of the president of Ukraine.

Viktor Yushchenko stated several days prior to the election that neither his followers, nor himself were going to acknowledge the voting results, if one registered massive falsification of the election results. It was easy to presume that the opposition would bring up the issue of fraud if Yushchenko rival's victory was becoming obvious. Viktor Yushchenko's bloc rejects the fact of Viktor Yanokovich's victory at the election, no matter if he takes a 0.5% or a 10% advantage of Yushchenko.

Exit-polls results testified to Yushchenko's forthcoming victory: the opposition leader was winning with up to ten percent according to exit-polls data. Spokespeople for the opposition found a high turnout in certain regions of Ukraine rather suspicious: over 96 and 88 percent of voters came to the polls in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where Yushchenko's rival, Viktor Yanukovich, enjoys the explicit support. It is noteworthy, that the opposition does not set out a concern in connection with the voting results in Western Ukraine, where the turnout of electors was extremely high as well.

On the base of the above-mentioned facts, Viktor Yushchenko and his team started talking about massive violations during the election process. As a result, the Ukrainian opposition stated that the voting results in two regions of Ukraine should be nullified. The opposition believes that Yanukovich has stolen the victory from them. According to ballot calculations of Yushchenko's headquarters, the majority of the electorate voted for him. Viktor Yanukovich was lacking ten percent. Yanukovich's headquarters also conducted its own calculation, which explicitly revealed the leader's victory, with the advantage of only three percent, though. This information coincides with the one presented by the Ukrainian Central Electoral Committee.

There are not too many variants to forecast future events in Ukraine: either Yushchenko acknowledges Yanukovich's victory, or the opposition will act according to the scenario of the last year's election in Georgia, when Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze was overthrown. The second variant is more likely to occur, with massive actions of protests, meetings and demonstrations in front of the parliament, the Central Electoral Committee, etc.

On the other hand, one may not say, if actions of protest prove to be helpful for the opposition. In addition, it would not be correct to compare the political systems in the two post-Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia, although the current situation in Ukraine is very reminiscent to the one that we witnessed in Georgia a year ago. Eduard Shevardnadze had no one to back him up in 2003: during the years of his stay at power he lost the support of his citizens, businessmen and the majority of officials. Viktor Yanukovich can boast of having it all. One should not disregard the fact that about a half of Ukrainian electors support his candidacy. Viktor Yushchenko and his team will have to take a lot of efforts to take the office of the president. One can only guess how far they will dare to go, and if the split of the Ukrainian society becomes real.

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Ukraine Opposition Leader Declares Victory

By ALEKSANDAR VASOVIC, Associated Press Writer

KIEV, Ukraine - Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko declared victory in Ukraine's presidential election and took a symbolic oath of office Tuesday, warning that the country was on the verge of civil conflict. About 200,000 supporters gathered in the capital to protest alleged election fraud.

Yushchenko accused authorities of rigging Sunday's vote in favor of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and announced a campaign of civil disobedience.

"Ukraine is on the threshold of a civil conflict," Yushchenko told lawmakers gathered for an emergency session of parliament to consider an opposition request to annul the election results. "We have two choices: either the answer will be given by the parliament, or the streets will give an answer."

The parliamentary session ended without making any decision, since only 191 lawmakers — less than the 226 required to have a quorum — attended.

After the session ended, Yushchenko swore an oath on a 300-year-old Bible. The Ukrainian constitution, however, stipulates that the president swears allegiance on a copy of the constitution. Lawmakers chanted "Bravo, Mr. President!"

Earlier, Yushchenko and his allies had released a statement appealing "to the parliaments and nations of the world to bolster the will of the Ukrainian people, to support their aspiration to return to democracy."

The opposition will conduct "a campaign of civil disobedience" and "a nonviolent struggle for recognition of the true results of the election."

The Election Commission's announcement that the Kremlin-backed Yanukovych was ahead of the Western-leaning Yushchenko has galvanized anger among many of the former Soviet republic's 48 million people. Official results, with more than 99.48 percent of precincts counted, showed Yanukovych leading with 49.39 percent to his challenger's 46.71 percent. But several exit polls had found Yushchenko the winner.

More than 100,000 people marched behind Yushchenko to the parliament building and waited behind metal barriers, waving orange flags — Yushchenko's campaign color — and holding a giant orange ribbon over their heads, chanting "Criminals go away!" But many began leaving after parliament failed to reach quorum and temperatures dropped as evening approached.

In parliament, pro-Yushchenko lawmakers — wearing orange handkerchiefs in their pockets — took turns at the podium.

"All political forces should negotiate and solve the situation without blood," said parliament speaker Volodymyr Litvyn.

"The activities of politicians and the government ... have divided society and brought people into to the streets," Litvyn said. "Today there is a danger of activities moving beyond control."

A no-confidence vote in parliament would have carried political significance, but it would not have been binding. According to the Ukrainian constitution, a no-confidence vote must be initiated by the president — and outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has staunchly backed Yanukovych.

Opposition leader and Yushchenko ally Yulia Tymoshenko, wearing an orange ribbon around her neck, called on lawmakers "not to go to into any negotiations" with the government. Instead, Tymoshenko said, they should "announce a new government, a new president, a new Ukraine."

Yushchenko supporters set up tents awash with orange on Kiev's main avenue and in Independence Square, pledging to stay despite freezing temperatures until he is declared president. People continued to arrive in minibuses and on foot, raising fears of civil unrest in this nation of 48 million.

The tent city even generated its own one-page newspaper, which was being handed out to supporters.

Mykola Tomenko, a lawmaker and Yushchenko ally, said some police had joined the opposition, although the claim was impossible to independently verify. One police officer, wearing an orange ribbon in his uniform, ordered a group of police outside a government building to retreat inside, defusing tension between them and Yushchenko supporters.

Kiev's city council and the administrations of four other sizable cities — Lviv, Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Ivano-Frankivsk — have refused to recognize the official results and they back Yushchenko.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites), who strongly praised Yanukovych during the election, sent his congratulations to the prime minister, but observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation (news - web sites) in Europe and other international organizations pointed to extensive indications of voting fraud.

The European Union (news - web sites) called for an urgent review of the results, and Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, spoke of "a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse."

In televised comments, Yanukovych called for national unity, saying: "I categorically will not accept the actions of certain politicians who are now calling people to the barricades. This small group of radicals has taken upon itself the goal of splitting Ukraine."

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Scary situation. The country is in a verge of civil-war. Next couple of days will clear out what's gonna happen. Is is too optimistic to wish that there would be non-violent way to solve this?

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Well, CatAstrofix, my grandmother and grandfather (may he rest in peace) are from Ukraine, and she told me that there is a huge difference between Eastern Ukranians and Western Ukranians, which is comming into light in this conflict. It's not just the elections, it runs deeper.

The western Ukranians were under Polish-Lithuanian and then Austro-Hungarian rule for about 600 years, while eastern Ukranians were under Russian rule untill 1991.

Their cultures and even langauges are different. Many eastern Ukranians are bi-lagual, speaking both Russian and Ukranian (and some don't speak Ukranian at all), while the western ones are much more aware of their nationality and seperate themselves from Russia.

It is now wonder then that 4 western districts have declared that their president is Yushenko.

This could very well turn into a blood-bath, creating a western Ukraine side by side with eastern one.

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Thanks Erikl, that was intetersting to know. I knew there must be more into this than just the elections and I knew about the division, just didn't know the origins of it.

Obvoiusly something more than just the conclusion of the winner of the elections has to be achieved. It seems that more than one ex-soviet country is still struggling to gain some stability. 13 years is after all so short time.

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Ukraine Awaits Final Election Results

By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press Writer

KIEV, Ukraine - Tens of thousands of supporters of opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko demonstrated in Ukraine's capital for a third day Wednesday, and one of his allies said the only thing to negotiate with government authorities is the transfer of power.

Yushchenko on Tuesday claimed victory over the Kremlin-backed prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, in Sunday's run-off election, which many Western observers said was seriously flawed and did not meet democratic standards. While nearly complete official results have put Yanukovych ahead, exit polls showed Yushchenko winning.

The Central Election Commission said it would announce the final results Wednesday, and tensions rose ahead of that statement as supporters of both candidates gathered within a few yards of each other, shouting insults. Heavy trucks were parked around the commission building.

Opposition members have expressed fears that if the commission certifies a Yanukovych victory, it could trigger swift and severe police action to break up the demonstrations. Yushchenko appealed to security forces not to strike out at the protesters but to "rise to the defense of the people."

Yushchenko told his supporters Wednesday that a symbolic oath of office that he took a day earlier "was the first step, but we need to carry on to the end. God forbid anybody doubts that we will win."

He said he was not opposed to a repeat vote — if the Central Election commission is made up of different people.

"If the authorities find a revote necessary, we are ready," provided that the commission is changed, Yushchenko said.

Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma late Tuesday called for talks involving all sides, and Yushchenko's allies initially appeared to be open to it.

But on Wednesday, Mykola Tomenko, a lawmaker and Yushchenko ally, told a crowd of supporters — awash with the opposition's orange campaign color — that it would only discuss Kuchma relinquishing power.

"We are ready to negotiate only about the peaceful handing over of power to Yushchenko by Kuchma," Tomenko told the crowd, which maintained its vigil on the capital's central Independence Square and the adjacent main avenue despite snow and freezing temperatures.

The election has led to an increasingly tense tug-of-war between Western nations and Russia, which considers Ukraine part of its sphere of influence and a buffer against eastward-expanding NATO (news - web sites).

European Commission (news - web sites) President Jose Manuel Barroso warned of "consequences" for the European Union (news - web sites)'s political and trade relations with Ukraine if its government there does not allow a "serious, objective review" of the election. At risk might be around $1.31 billion the bloc has given or committed to Ukraine since 1991 in development and economic aid and possible visa bans on politicians and officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) has already congratulated Yanukovych on his victory, and the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament denounced the Ukrainian opposition for its "illegal actions."

Opposition supporters have taken over blocks of Kiev's main street, setting up a giant tent camp. There has been a near total absence of police officers, although Tuesday night as the opposition supporters marched to the presidential administration building, they met phalanxes of riot police outside. The standoff ended without incident, however.

Yanukovych supporters have become increasingly visible in Kiev, setting up hundreds of tents on a wooded slope less than half a mile from the opposition's even larger tent camp. They shouted their candidate's name throughout the night, and at one point a car bearing a Yanukovych banner drove past the edge of the opposition gathering.

Later, about 50 Yanukovych supporters gathered near the Cabinet of Ministers building, facing 50 young Yushchenko supporters across the street. The groups shouted insults at each other. There was no visible police presence.

A miner from Kriviy Rih in eastern Ukraine who would only give his first name of Mykola said he came to the capital to prevent the "usurping (of) power."

"We have no one to bring us food and clothes as our opponents (do)," he said, referring to the huge outpouring of support from Kiev residents for the Yushchenko supporters camping out in the cold. "But we will win because we believe in Ukraine."

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, meanwhile, vowed that the military "will always serve only the people's interests."

Official results released by the election commission, with more than 99.48 percent of precincts counted, put Yanukovych ahead with 49.39 percent of the votes to his challenger's 46.71 percent. But several exit polls indicated Yushchenko was the winner.

Two members of the commission urged their 13 colleagues not to sign the final protocol making the election results official, the Interfax news agency reported.

Yushchenko has accused authorities of rigging Sunday's vote in favor of Yanukovych and has announced a campaign of civil disobedience.

"Ukraine is on the threshold of a civil conflict," Yushchenko told lawmakers at an emergency parliament session Tuesday. "We have two choices: either the answer will be given by the parliament, or the streets will give an answer."

In a statement read on state television, Kuchma referred to the demonstrations as "political farce ... (which is) extremely dangerous and may lead to unforeseeable consequences" and called for talks to propose "real steps for getting out of the crisis."

Yushchenko, wearing an orange tie, swore the symbolic oath of office Tuedsay on the floor of the parliament, placing his hands on the constitution and a Bible as lawmakers stood and chanted, "Bravo, Mr. President!" His American-born wife presented him with a bouquet and hugged him.

Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko called for the election to be declared invalid and all power to be transferred to parliament, said his spokeswoman Oksana Cherkun. Symonenko can play a decisive role in Ukrainian politics, because the Communist Party's 59 lawmakers are needed by both pro-Yushchenko and pro-Yanukovych lawmakers to secure a majority.

Meanwhile, 14 journalists on Ukrainian state television's main news program announced a strike Wednesday. "We can conquer our fears because there is a stronger feeling — shame," the journalists wrote in a statement, according to editor Olga Savrey.

Kiev's city council and the administrations of four other sizable cities — Lviv, Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Ivano-Frankivsk — have refused to recognize a Yanukovych victory.

Putin, visiting Portugal, branded the criticism by Western election observers as "inadmissible" ahead of complete official results. Ukraine "doesn't need to be lectured," he said through an interpreter.

The White House said it was "deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud," according to spokeswoman Claire Buchan.

"We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved," she said.

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