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Ukrainian Presidential Candidates Debate On TV

15 November 2004 -- The two runoff candidates in Ukraine's presidential election on 21 November traded criticisms and accusations in a nationally televised debate tonight.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, supported by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, said he came "to tell the truth" about what he called "old authorities and bankrupt politicians" who "are struggling for power again."

Viktor Yushchenko, a Western-leaning former prime minister, said voters "have a choice: To live according to criminal laws or as honest well-to-do people." He said he would provide "new jobs, decent wages, and stable prices," and "defeat corruption" if elected president.

Yushchenko won in the first round with less than a percentage point separating him from Yanukovych. The remainder of the votes were divided among 22 other candidates.

A number of international observers criticized the campaign leading up to the 31 October first round as biased and undemocratic because of official interference and evident bias toward Yanukovych on state television, and said that the election itself failed to meet international standards.