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Ukraine: Putin Congratulates - EU and US protest

 
 
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 02:28 pm
There's concrete fear that Ukraine's election result could spark violence.

Quote:
Ukraine cities defy poll result
Officials in several Ukrainian cities have refused to accept the outcome of Sunday's presidential election.
Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied to contest the official victory for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, amid Western concern over the vote.

Opposition challenger Viktor Yushchenko has told supporters to stage a civil disobedience campaign.

But central security authorities are warning that they are ready to put down any lawlessness "quickly and firmly".


"We appeal to the organisers of mass protests to assume responsibility for their possible consequences," the prosecutor general and the interior ministry said in a statement.

The central electoral commission said that, with more than 99% of the vote counted, Mr Yanukovych had 49.4% support while Mr Yushchenko had 46.7%.

But the opposition says it has recorded many thousands of irregularities in the poll - including very high turnouts in government strongholds.

'Splitting Ukraine'

Mr Yushchenko, seen as the pro-Western candidate, told thousands of people in the capital, Kiev, not to leave their rally "until victory".

"We are launching an organised movement of civil resistance," he said, denouncing what he called the "total falsification" of the vote, which followed days of acrimonious wrangling over the results of the first round.

Kiev city council refused to recognise the results, and urged parliament to follow suit.

Thousands of people also turned onto the streets in the western city of Lviv, where the city council said it would only take orders from Mr Yushchenko.

Three other cities in opposition strongholds in western Ukraine have said they considered the opposition candidate the legal president.

The city councils' move is likely to be seen as a symbolic moral victory for the opposition - although the councils have much less power than the central authorities, observers say.


However, Mr Yanukovych called for national unity and criticised the call for public protests.

"This small group of radicals has taken upon itself the goal of splitting Ukraine," he said in comments reported by AP news agency.


'Concerted' fraud

Observers for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Sunday's run-off vote fell far short of European democratic norms.

The organisation, which also reported serious irregularities in the first round, said violations included a continuing "media bias" in favour of Mr Yanukovych and intimidation of observers and voters.


The US' official observer, Senator Richard Lugar, alleged "concerted and forceful" fraud and the EU called on Ukraine to review the election.

However, Moscow, which backed Prime Minister Yanukovych, recognised the result.

Exit polls earlier suggested that Mr Yushchenko had been on course for victory with a lead of at least six percentage points.

His supporters say they do not believe the official turnout figure of 96% in eastern Ukraine.

During the campaign, Mr Yushchenko, prime minister between 1999 and 2001, claimed to have been the victim of intimidation and dirty tricks, including an alleged poisoning attempt.

His critics portray him as an American puppet who will do anything to gain power, including inciting civil unrest.


Quote:
ELECTION RIVALS

Viktor Yanukovych:
Aged 54
Imprisoned twice in his youth
Former governor of industrial Donetsk region
Raised pensions and public sector pay before election
Would make Russian second official language and allow dual citizenship

Viktor Yushchenko:
Aged 50
An economist and former central banker
Has an American wife
Promises to fight corruption, create five million jobs and pursue free market reforms
Would seek deeper relations with Europe and the West


sources: BBC
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 02:30 pm
Quote:
Tens of thousands rally in Kiev amid rising anger over result of Ukraine's presidential runoff
NATASHA LISOVA, Associated Press Writer

Monday, November 22, 2004
(11-22) 12:18 PST KIEV, Ukraine (AP) --

Tens of thousands of demonstrators jammed downtown Kiev in freezing temperatures Monday night, denouncing Ukraine's presidential runoff election as fraudulent and chanting the name of their reformist candidate who authorities said was trailing in the vote count.

Viktor Yushchenko stood beaming on a platform with campaign aides and flashed a "V" for victory sign -- even though the Central Election Commission said earlier that with nearly all the votes counted, he was losing to Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

"Yushchenko -- our president!" chanted the crowd, many of whom waved orange scarves -- his campaign color. Others had set up a tent camp along central Khreshchatyk Street.

The election commission's announcement galvanized widespread dismay and anger among the former Soviet republic's 48 million people. The capital's city council and several other municipal governments rejected the official results and a major chocolate factory closed plants in protest.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a statement to Yanukovych to congratulate him on the result, Russian news agencies reported, but a group of international observers described Sunday's balloting as severely flawed. Observers with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said there were extensive indications of vote fraud, including people apparently voting multiple times and voters being forced to turn over absentee ballots to state employers.

In Washington, the State Department called on Ukraine's government to investigate the allegations of fraud or risk a changed relationship with the United States.

Echoing criticism by the European Union, the OSCE, Freedom House and others, spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States was deeply concerned and called on Ukrainian authorities "to act to ensure an outcome that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people."

The State Department is not calling for new elections and it is not too late to address concerns, but "quick action on the part of the government of Ukraine is required," Ereli said

Otherwise, he said, "we would consider the results tarnished and would have to consider what responses in the relationship would be appropriate."

Some demonstrators in Kiev waved large Georgian flags, echoing the mass protests a year ago that drove President Eduard Shevardnadze from office in that former Soviet republic after a fraudulent parliamentary election.

"We will not leave this place until we win," Yushchenko said. "The people's will cannot be broken. People's votes cannot be stolen."

As protesters milled outside the capital's city council building, its members inside passed a resolution calling on the national parliament to not recognize the election results.

If the parliament doesn't take action to solve the crisis, "we will have no choice but to block roads, airports, seize city halls," said Yuliya Tymoshenko, a Yushchenko ally who has been one of the most visible opposition figures, noted for her elaborately braided blond hair.

Yushchenko told the crowd that police were believed to be preparing to break up the gathering.

Four other sizable cities -- Lviv, Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Ivano-Frankivsk -- announced they recognized Yushchenko as president, news agencies reported. Some 20,000 protesters rallied in Lviv, Yushchenko's western stronghold region.

The Roshen company, a major chocolate producer, announced it would close its factories for a week in protest, the Unian news agency said. If industrial protests spread, the economic growth that has been one of the struggling country's few recent points of pride could be undermined.

Sen. Richard Lugar, the visiting chairman of the Senate's foreign relations committee, said outgoing President Leonid Kuchma "has both the responsibility and the opportunity to review all of this and take decisive action in the best interests of the country."

Lugar did not make specific suggestions and it was not immediately clear what Kuchma and the authorities might do to defuse the sharply rising anger.

European Union officials also urged Ukrainian authorities to "urgently" review the results, saying the election had "clearly fallen short" of international standards.

Yanukovych, in televised comments, called for national unity and criticized the call for public protests. "This small group of radicals has taken upon itself the goal of splitting Ukraine," he said.

Although official results, with more than 99 percent of precincts counted, showed Yanukovych with 49.42 percent to 46.70 percent for Yushchenko, several exit polls had found Yushchenko the winner.

The international observers rated the voting as more flawed than the Oct. 31 first round. "The abuse of state resources in favor of the prime minister continued, as well as an overwhelming media bias in his favor," said mission leader Bruce George.

"It is now apparent that a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental authorities," said Lugar, who came to Kiev as President Bush's envoy.

In contrast, the Russian head of an observer mission from former Soviet republics, Vladimir Rushailo, declared the voting "transparent, legitimate and free," according to the Interfax news agency.

Russian authorities, including Putin, had strongly praised Yanukovych during the campaign, and the nascent uprising in favor of Yushchenko is likely an embarrassment to the Kremlin as it tries to reassert influence in the ex-Soviet sphere.

The election was seen as determining whether Ukraine tilts toward the West or its traditional patron, Russia.

Yushchenko said that in addition to the tent camp in Kiev, the opposition would demand an emergency parliamentary session; reports said the session was expected Tuesday.
Source
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 02:32 pm
One of my immediate colleagues is a recent immigrant from Ukraine. Family and friends are in Kiev, and she is very concerned about what she is hearing from them.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 02:38 pm
Seems to get worse and worse there - not only your immediate and her relatives/family should be conserned.


Quote:
US Asks Ukraine To Investigate Election Fraud Charges



WASHINGTON (AP)--The U.S. State Department called on the government of Ukraine Monday to investigate allegations of fraud in its presidential elections or risk a changed relationship with the U.S.

Echoing criticism by the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation, Freedom House and others, spokesman Adam Ereli said the U.S. was deeply concerned and called on Ukrainian authorities "to act to ensure an outcome that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people."

The State Department isn't calling for new elections and it is not too late to address concerns, but "quick action on the part of the government of Ukraine is required," Ereli said.

Otherwise, he said, "we would consider the results tarnished and would have to consider what responses in the relationship would be appropriate."

In Ukraine, announcement by the elections commission that Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was ahead of reformist candidate Viktor Yushchenko with nearly all the votes counted evoked widespread dismay and anger among the former Soviet republic's 48 million people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a statement to Yanukovych late Monday to congratulate him on the result, Russian news agencies reported, but a group of international observers described Sunday's balloting as severely flawed.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the U.S. Senate's foreign relations committee, said in Kiev there had been "a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse." He called on outgoing President Leonid Kuchma "to view all of this and take decisive action in the best interests of the country."

Ereli said he didn't have any comment on Russian activities, nor did he say what action the U.S. might take against Ukraine.

However, Anders Aslund, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said "the election was stolen" and that Russia had done whatever it could in behalf of Yanukovych, including two visits by Putin, who campaigned for him.

"It was stolen," Aslund said of the election. Exit polls suggest Yushchenko would have won by 11%, he said. "This is very serious," the director of Carnegie"s Eurasian program said in an interview.

"I don't think this will work," he said. "I think it is good that the West is protesting."

The country of 47 million is one of the biggest recipients of U.S. assistance. The State Department has openly offered to help Ukraine join European institutions if the elections met international standards.

Ukraine is a staunch supporter of the U.S. campaign against insurgents in Iraq. It has contributed 1,600 troops to the U.S.-led coalition.

"Obviously, passions are running high," Ereli said. "The United States, in Ukraine as elsewhere, is a passionate supporter of the right of people to express their opinions freely and peacefully." he said.

"It is our position that the will of the people in these elections needs to be respected and the process needs to be peaceful," the U.S. official said.


Dow Jones Newswires
11-22-041520ET
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 03:39 pm
That's not good.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 03:39 pm
That's not good.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 01:30 pm
Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko appeared before opposition members of parliament Tuesday and declared himself president in the wake of a disputed election. Yuschenko read the oath of office before a 200,000-strong crowd of supporters gathered outside parliament. Official results of the election indicated a narrow victory for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, but exit polls showed a much wider margin in favor of Yushchenko. Yushchenko declared a campaign of civil disobedience, while international response was mixed with some observers citing fraud and Russia recognizing a Yanukovych victory.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 01:39 pm
Quote:
Ukraine Opposition Marches on President's Office

By Yuri Kulikov

KIEV (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Ukrainian opposition supporters marched on the president's office on Tuesday seeking to install their leader in office, defying poll results they said had been rigged by a pro-Moscow government.


Hours earlier, pro-Western opposition head Viktor Yushchenko symbolically took the oath of office while some 200,000 backers rallied outside parliament in driving snow and freezing temperatures.


As the crowd moved in a sea of orange opposition flags and banners toward the presidential offices, formally occupied by outgoing president Leonid Kuchma, witnesses said anti-riot police were taking up positions near the offices.


Demonstrators later stopped their march and faced police equipped with riot shields and protective headgear.


Yushchenko has accused authorities of staging mass fraud to deny him victory in Sunday's run-off which the establishment candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, appeared to have won on the basis of official returns.


Kuchma, who endorsed his prime minister in the election, broke two days of silence to urge both candidates to talk. He warned Western countries that their criticism of election procedures could stoke tension in Ukraine.


Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites), a supporter of Yanukovich, called for a non-violent solution of the crisis within the framework of the law.


Yushchenko's dramatic gesture declaring himself president came after parliament's speaker hurriedly closed a tumultuous session to ensure that no constitutional rules were violated. No other decision was taken on the disputed election outcome.


Placing his hand on a bible as his allies in the chamber sang the national anthem, he read the oath, opened a window in the building and spoke to supporters outside.


Yushchenko later reappeared before crowds massed on vast Independence Square, urging them to disregard the cold, remain overnight and guard a tent encampment on Kiev's main street.


"What we started today must be defended every day," he said. "We urge you to come to the square in the same numbers. Tomorrow you will be especially needed for the country.


One of his lieutenants, Yulia Tymoshenko, urged supporters to proceed to Kuchma's nearby headquarters.


"We are going to go to the presidential administration in a peaceful way, without breaking anything," Tymoshenko, head of a faction in parliament, said as Yushchenko looked on. "And either they will give up their power, or we will take it."


SUPPORTERS TO PRESIDENT'S OFFICE, STADIUM


Tymoshenko also told demonstrators to march to a nearby stadium, where Dynamo Kiev was hosting AS Roma in a Champions League match, and shout slogans in support of Yushchenko.


Yushchenko had told parliament that Ukraine, convulsed by two days of protests backing him in Kiev and in nationalist western Ukraine, "is on the brink of civil conflict."


At a session boycotted by the prime minister's allies, he accused Kuchma and Yanukovich of direct responsibility for the electoral fraud. Liberals had stood up one after the other in the chamber and urged Yushchenko to proceed with the oath.


Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn had opened the debate by warning that Ukraine was "sliding toward the abyss.

"It is amoral and criminal to pretend nothing is happening in the country," he told deputies.

Kuchma's statement, his first since the run-off, proposed "consultations between participants in the election process."

Statements by the European Union (news - web sites) and other countries critical of the vote "could lead to a deterioration of the situation in Ukraine."

U.S. and Western observers say the second round run-off presidential vote fell far short of international standards.

Washington warned of punitive measures if the Kiev leadership failed to investigate allegations of vote-rigging and the European Union described the vote as "fraudulent."

In Brussels, the European parliament's chief observer said Sunday's run-off defied common sense and had more in common with a North Korean election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has congratulated the prime minister on his insurmountable lead in the official count, called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute. He urged supporters of both candidates to act within the law.

Economists said Ukraine, which has one of Europe's fastest-growing economies, could suffer a painful slump if the political split deepens.

With passions high against the background of a warning on Monday from security forces that they would crush unrest "quickly and firmly," the political split could turn violent.

Yanukovich has not declared victory. But he virtually assumed the mantle of president on Monday by appearing on television beside the national flag to denounce Yushchenko and his supporters.

Banners in the sea of protesters included the Georgian red and white flag -- a reminder that November 23 was the first anniversary of Georgia's mass "rose revolution" that toppled veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze and elected a pro-Westerner.
Source
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:04 pm
I've been paying attention recently to nostalgic rumblings coming from Moscow.

Putin is turning back time, pre-Glasnost--and something untoward is afoot, IMO.

He's arresting and jailing opponents and dissidents again. Heard a blip in the news that he's restarting the nuke race with Bush--NPR. I should go try to find something more definitive.

It does look like Russia is annexing Ukraine. They've just traded tanks for votes--but the result will be the same.

Bears attention.

He's pushing on a fewpoints. Wonder how hard he will push before Bush says something publicly.... <unhappy about this>
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:07 pm
Isn't Putin's unbending position towards terrorism what really matters to the US government?

Can we expect more than pro-democracy lip service from the Bush administration?
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:15 pm
It's a tense situation, all right. But it may end without bloodshed. Many of the police and military on the scene appear to be Tymoshenko supporters, for one thing. For another, Putin appears to be backing down from his initial reaction to the voting results; he is now saying he won't comment until all the votes are counted. (That's from the BBC Overseas service.)

Lash, I agree with you re: Putin's trying to turn back the clock. I think he is very uncomfortable in a free-market democracy and would love to see a return to the old regime. I also think, however, that he is too smart to push the envelope at this time. He needs the good will of the West, and especially of the USA, to keep the Russian economy going. There's no doubt he would like to see Ukraine re-annexed. But that doesn't mean he'll take the foolish step of sending in tanks to assure a Yanukovich victory.

BTW, Walter, this story has been at the top of the news in the USA all day today, at least on the radio stations I listen to.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:17 pm
My colleague's younger brother is in the army in Ukraine. He told her today that there are a lot of Russian soldiers, recently arrived, in Ukrainian military uniforms in Kiev right now.

He is out protesting.

There is a protest at the Ukrainian embassy in Tranna now. I think we're going to have to get out and support the protestors tomorrow. We want the people in Ukraine to know we support them. For once, I am very glad for the photo-phone.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:28 pm
fbaezer wrote:
Isn't Putin's unbending position towards terrorism what really matters to the US government?

Can we expect more than pro-democracy lip service from the Bush administration?

That seemed a little uncharacteristically cynical for you, fbaezer. No one wants Russia to morph back into what it was. I know Russia is a notable point of discussion on the NS briefings now. It is a tight rope to walk-- you wonder if Putin's just massaging some hardliner egos with this bold stuff--or if he's being egged on by Chirac or other world players, who can't tolerate Bush's lonely position at the top-- or if the Russians just can't make it work, and want things the way they were.

So, what's a President to do? Completely wreck what has been a good relationship with the US for a decade--over what may be nothing? Or come out with both barrels (public censure--which may ruin the relationship)? We do need him working with us re terrorism. Can you imagine if he went rogue again and helped the terrorists?

Scenario I don't even want to think about.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:30 pm
Oh God. What are Russian troops doing there? In Ukrainian uniforms? I just got chills. Hope there's some other explanation than the one that sprang to my mind.

ehBeth, does he say why he thinks they're there?
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:34 pm
Lash, my humble opinion is that the US and Russia are historically at odds (remember their opposing positions regarding the Balkans, if we want to talk about postsoviet times) and that Bush does like Putin a little too much (as if the two found a sort of twin).

The big difference is democratic tradition and institutions in the US, which are either absent or frail in Russia.

As for Ukraine, from what I read, things are heading towards a capitulation of the Kutchma-Yanukovich group... which seems to be the best thing to happen, if the fraud was so big.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:40 pm
I agree with fbaezer re: the Bush/Putin relationship. In this case, however, I don't think Bush would follow Putin's lead in backing a Yanukovich victory. If anything, Putin is more likely to back down and follow Bush's lead. Tymoshenko has long been known as a capitalist politician who is interested in forging stronger ties to the West.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:43 pm
Lash, it's frightening to contemplate what those Russian soldiers in Ukrainian uniforms could mean.

I know that the people in our office who are from Kiev were literally ashen when they heard that news.

I hope we'll get more news from Kiev tonight. And that it's good news. But how do you step back from declaring your presidency?
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:45 pm
I agree. The 'warm' relationship between George and Vlad is held together by spit and hope. The underlying historical differences you note, and the incredible lifestyle chasm between us --and national identities--

It wouldn't take much to blow it asunder. Russia is suffering. I bet Putin is getting reamed on a regular basis by the old timers. He may be forced to strike out somehow. I have very little doubt that Russia was in on this election.

We may pass this with no riot or Revolution (hopefully)--but I think Putin is on a path.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 06:49 pm
ehBeth wrote:
But how do you step back from declaring your presidency?


If the Ukrainian electoral system is as terrible as Mexico's used to be until the early nineties (and there is some sort of deja vu about this movilization), it is parliament who declares President-elect.
And, if that's the case, the key votes needed will be neither from the Yanukovich or the Yuschenko supporters, but from the Communists.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 07:05 pm
Thanks, ehBeth. I hadn't seen your response when I posted.

My thoughts are with the people who have loved ones there--and of course, the Ukrainians.

Things can change so quickly.

Thanks for the updating.

----
Re Fbaezer's last sentence-- The Communists will decide it...? Gee, I wonder what they'll do...
<dejection>
0 Replies
 
 

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