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U.S. Refuses To Accept Ukrainian Election Result

  • Andrew Tully

http://gdb.rferl.org/057B5395-6C3B-49C1-8816-F8C3517536A7_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/057B5395-6C3B-49C1-8816-F8C3517536A7_mw800_mh600.jpg The U.S. doesn't believe Yanukovych's supporters finished ahead of Yushchenko's Washington, 24 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has rejected the official results of Ukraine's runoff presidential election, in which Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych -- backed by the Kremlin as well as incumbent President Leonid Kuchma -- was formally declared the winner over opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

Shortly after Viktor Yanukovych was formally declared the winner of the disputed 21 November elections, Secretary of State Powell said in Washington that the United States cannot accept Yanukovych as Ukraine's president-elect.

"We cannot accept this result [of the presidential election in Ukraine] as legitimate because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse," he said.

Powell said it is time for Ukraine's leaders to decide whether or not they are on the side of democracy. The secretary said he had spoken with Kuchma, urging him to conduct a thorough investigation into suspected election fraud. He said he also advised Kuchma not to resort to force in dealing with the tens of thousands of pro-Yushchenko demonstrators who have gathered in Kyiv for the past three days.

If an election-fraud investigation is not mounted, Powell said, there would be "consequences." He refused to say what they might be.

"It is time for Ukrainian leaders to decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not, whether they respect the will of the people or not," he said. "If the Ukrainian government does not act immediately and responsibly, there will be consequences for our relationship, for Ukraine's hopes for Euro-Atlantic integration and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud."
"It is time for Ukrainian leaders to decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not, whether they respect the will of the people or not."


Shortly after Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was formally declared the winner of the disputed 21 November elections, Secretary of State Powell said in Washington that the United States cannot accept Yanukovych as Ukraine's president-elect.

"We cannot accept this result [of the presidential election in Ukraine] as legitimate because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse," he said.

Powell said it is time for Ukraine's leaders to decide whether or not they are on the side of democracy. The secretary said he had spoken with Kuchma, urging him to conduct a thorough investigation into suspected election fraud. He said he also advised Kuchma not to resort to force in dealing with the tens of thousands of pro-Yushchenko demonstrators who have gathered in Kyiv for the past three days.

If an election-fraud investigation is not mounted, Powell said, there would be "consequences." He refused to say what they might be.

"It is time for Ukrainian leaders to decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not, whether they respect the will of the people or not," he said. "If the Ukrainian government does not act immediately and responsibly, there will be consequences for our relationship, for Ukraine's hopes for Euro-Atlantic integration and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud."

Twice Powell sidestepped questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin's vocal support for Yanukovych. He said only that he had held friendly talks on the Ukrainian election with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He added, in answer to one reporter's question: "We're not looking for a contest with the Russians over this. We're looking for a way to make sure that the will of the Ukrainian people is respected."

Powell said the United States' position on the Ukrainian election remains the same: finding a solution based on law.

Washington already has taken some punitive action against Ukraine: a State Department official -- speaking on condition of anonymity -- tells RFE/RL that visas will be denied to others who are believed to be involved in election fraud.

Analysts say such action is not merely symbolic, especially if Western European countries follow suit. They say Ukrainian businessmen especially need to travel to the West to conduct their affairs properly.

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Analysis:

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