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Votes Being Counted In Ukrainian Presidential Election

22 November 2004 -- Votes are being counted from yesterday's presidential runoff in Ukraine amid claims that each of the two candidates is leading the election.

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), with about 37 percent of the vote counted, Viktor Yanukovych is leading with some 50 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Viktor Yushchenko -- even though exit polls put Yushchenko ahead.

The CEC office in the capital, Kyiv, is being heavily guarded by riot police and several armored vehicles. Yushchenko supporters have gathered in a central square.

Yushchenko -- who narrowly won the first round in October -- has threatened mass protests if the run-off result is falsified.

President Leonid Kuchma vowed that there would be "no revolution" in Ukraine. Yesterday's turnout was reported to be about 78 percent. Both sides complained of voting violations.

International observers and the opposition said the first round was a step backwards for democracy in Ukraine.

Yushchenko has said he wants to integrate Ukraine more with Western Europe and has suggested seeking NATO membership. Yanukovych -- who was praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin -- has said we would pursue stronger ties with Moscow.

It is unclear when the final official result from yesterday's runoff will be announced. After the first round, it was 10 days before the overall result was released.


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