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NGO Criticizes Ukraine Over Election Interference

11 November 2004 -- A top international human rights group says Ukrainian authorities interfered in all stages of the country's presidential election campaign and indecisive vote.

The criticism by the International Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights comes a day after officials released the final results of the 31 October poll.

Officials said the final tally showed the Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko with 39.87 percent against 39.32 percent for Viktor Yanukovych, who is backed by both outgoing President Leonid Kuchma and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Helsinki Foundation cited state media bias in Yanukovych's favor and state interference, including obstruction of opposition activities.

Campaigning is expected to intensify for the 21 November second round of the presidential election.

The Kremlin today said Putin, who made a visit in support of Yanukovych on the eve of the first election, will visit Ukraine again tomorrow.