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Kuchma Pledges Peaceful Transfer Of Power

11 December 2004 -- Ukraine's outgoing President Leonid Kuchma today promised an orderly rerun of the presidential runoff on 26 December and a peaceful transfer of power.

Kuchma comments were contained in a statement issued after a meeting with former U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke.

Kuchma's statement also criticized a two-week blockade of his office by protesters loyal to opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Ukraine's government today also revised its 2005 budget forecasts to reflect the political crisis.

Finance Minister Mykola Azarov said growth is now forecast at 6.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) instead of 8.6 percent. Growth in 2004 is forecast at about 12 percent.

Azarov said the 2005 inflation forecast has been raised to 8.7 percent from 7.1 percent, while the budget deficit is now pegged at 2.8 percent of GDP, up from the original 1.3 percent.


[For more RFE/RL coverage and analysis of the political crisis in Ukraine, click here.]