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Ukrainian President Vows Fair And Free Elections

12 July 2004 -- President Leonid Kuchma has vowed to do whatever he can to ensure fair and free presidential elections in Ukraine this fall.

Kuchma was speaking to Ukrainian 1+1 TV yesterday to mark the 10th anniversary of his rule.

Ukraine's opposition fears Kuchma and his allies may try to manipulate the vote on 31 October. Kuchma has given his backing to Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. His main opponent is expected to be opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Kuchma said the October ballot will be monitored by "as many observers as a single country has ever had." Kuchma said it is more important how the election is conducted than who is elected president. Kuchma again ruled out running for a third term despite approval from the country's Constitutional Court.


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