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Kuchma Warns Opposition Threatening Democracy

18 November 2004 -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma today warned that "certain political forces," which he said were threatening to take power in Ukraine by force, posed a threat to democracy.

"Is there a threat to democracy? I would like to ask you and myself the same question. Unfortunately, I must emphasize with all sincerity that yes, there is, unless some political forces restrain their emotions," Kuchma said.

Kuchma's comments at a press conference was seen as a clear allusion to opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko who is facing Kuchma-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in the second-round presidential election on 21 November.

Yushchenko edged ahead of Yanukovych by half a percentage point in the first round on 31 October but accused the authorities of cheating to keep him out of office.

He has urged his supporters to take strong action against any possible fraud in the second round.

Thousands of volunteers for both election teams, as well as hundreds of foreign monitors will observe the runoff.