Kuchma says new vote possible

(AP) - Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma said Nov. 29 that a new vote might be the only way out of a crisis that has badly split the country and led to more than a week of mass protests over last week's disputed presidential runoff, the Interfax news agency reported.

Kychma "If we really want to preserve peace and accord, if we really want to build a democratic state ... let's hold new elections," Kuchma said, according to Interfax. He said Ukraine needs a "legitimate president."

Kuchma, who even as outgoing president still wields tremendous clout, had backed Viktor Yanukovych, who was also supported by the Kremlin and was last week declared the official winner by Ukraine's election commission. Kuchma has previously spoken of compromise, but the Nov. 29 statement amounted to a dramatic boost for opposition chief Viktor Yushchenko, who says the Nov. 21 runoff was rigged.

It came as the country's respected Supreme Court convened to consider opposition requests to invalidate the runoff because of fraud - after eight days of demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Yushchenko supporters braving snow and freezing cold to blockade government buildings and try to bring government to a halt.

Although the appeal called for Yushchenko to be installed as president because of his narrow lead in the first round, the opposition chief has also called for a new vote. And Yanukovych himself said he'd accept a new vote if fraud were proven.

Under Ukrainian legislation, the Supreme Court cannot rule on the overall results but can declare results invalid in individual precincts. The deliberations were expected to last several days at least.

Justice Anatoliy Yarema said the court would give Yanukovych's lawyers until 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) Tuesday to study the evidence.

Stepan Havrysh, a key Yanukovych aide, said his side was expecting a "fair decision ... taken without emotion." He added: "I expect that the judges will not overstep the law because it could end in a civil war."

On Nov. 28, leaders in eastern Ukraine threatened to seek autonomy if Yanukovych - who is currently prime minister - is shut out of the presidency.

Roughly a quarter of Ukraine's people are ethnic Russians, and an even higher proportion consider themselves primarily speakers of Russian and not Ukrainian - a vestige of the domination Imperial Russia and later the Soviet Union wielded in the area for centuries.

Russian-speakers are concentrated in the eastern industrial heartland of the country, and that is where Yanukovych's support is strongest. Many there also feel a growing alienation from the more western regions - ruled by Poland until the 1700s - where people overwhelmingly supported Yushchenko's reformist program and orientation toward Europe.

In Kyiv, meanwhile, tens of thousands of Yushchenko supporters continued their protests, refusing to let anyone but security personnel enter several government buildings.

But Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk was quoted by Interfax Monday as saying that the army wouldn't use force against the people - a statement meant to calm fears that the days and nights of protest would end in action by the security forces.

The standoff is also straining relations between Russia and the West - which both see Ukraine as strategically important.

While Ukraine is dependent on Russian oil, Russia needs Ukraine's pipelines to transport its oil to other markets. Russian President Vladimir Putin has strongly backed Yanukovych.

The United States and other Western nations have refused to recognize the official results, pointing at evidence of rampant official fraud, and the EU has said a new vote is the only way out of the crisis.

In its appeal, the opposition alleged widespread fraud and asked the court to annul the results and name Yushchenko the winner because of his narrow first round victory.

Kuchma's statement came just after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he had telephoned the Ukrainian president to express concern about reports of a possible splintering of the country.

On Nov. 28, the regional legislature in Donetsk, the prime minister's native region and main power base, voted 164-1 to hold a Dec. 5 referendum on autonomy for the province.

That followed a meeting attended by Yanukovych and some 3,500 delegates from the east and south which adopted a resolution threatening a similar plebiscite across the entire region that backed Yanukovych.

Last week Yanukovych was declared the winner of the runoff by a margin of 871,402 votes. But exit polls had given Yushchenko a sizable lead. 

November 30, 2004 in President | Permalink | Comments (4)

Kuchma initiates re-counting votes or third vote

President initiates re-counting votes or third vote in two regions - Luhansk & Donetsk regions.

November 29, 2004 in President | Permalink | Comments (29) | TrackBack

Yushchenko gives ultimatum to President Kuchma

The National Rescue Committee, which is led by Victor Yushchenko, advanced the following ultimatum to Leonid Kuchma:

Within 24 hours the Committee demands that Kuchma to fulfill four conditions:

1. Fire Yanukovych from Prime Minister, because of his election falsifications and his support of separatist groups.

2. New candidates for the Central Election Commission.

3. Fire the administrators of the Lugansk, Kharkiv and Donetsk regions because of their separatist actions.

4. To give urgent instruction to General Persecutor and Ukraine Security Council to open criminal case against separatists-dissenters of Ukraine.

November 29, 2004 in President | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Picqueting the president building on Thursday night

We came there after two hours walking aroung the main square among thousands of citizens. Near the president buildings were some amount of police just keeping their position calmly and observer the mass.

03 In front of them from picketer's side were the people's security in orange keeping the order and watch for provocation. Behind them about 15 girls sang ukrainian popular songs and gave policemans a lot of flowers.

5 From time to time mass began to scan something, and then sing again. It was very pleasant to be there, because so many smiles and polite everythere I've not seen before nowhere.

From the rear of mass we found the travelling kitchen and felt appetizing smell. People who came from other cities to support the protest ate there and got warm.

19 We had lot of infomartion about how we can help this movement - to bring some food, clothes, take care of visitant, work as a volunteer in the camping and so on. It's really popular and nation movement!!

04 07

November 26, 2004 in Kiev, Pictures, President | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack