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Ukraine Leader Cancels Foreign Trip As Tensions Rise

Ukrainian President Kuchma (file photo) 25 October 2004 -- Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma canceled his trip to Poland at the last minute today as election tensions rose in Ukraine.

Polish Presidential Minister Dariusz Szymczycha told public radio that the Ukrainian diplomatic service informed Poland that the delay was due to the situation in Ukraine before the elections.

A dozen people were injured in an attack on opposition supporters outside the Central Election Commission headquarters in the capital Kyiv on 23 October.

Ukraine's Central Election Commission today condemned the attack as unprecedented and urged the constitutional order to be preserved during the 31 October presidential election.

Yesterday, Ukrainian opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko accused police of sending a group of assailants to attack his supporters.

Opposition officials claim that some of the assailants had police badges and at least two were armed with handguns.

Socialist Party presidential candidate Oleksandr Moroz also accused authorities of organizing the clash. Moroz said the attack was a provocation aimed at a "breakdown of the vote."

Yesterday, Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko pledged to ban opposition rallies in Kyiv.

Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who is backed by incumbent President Leonid Kuchma, are the main candidates in the election.