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OSCE: Ukrainian Poll Not Up To Democratic Standards

Kyiv, 22 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says that yesterday's presidential elections in Ukraine failed to meet international democratic standards.

European Union Foreign Ministers, meeting in Brussels today, also expressed caution over the result. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he takes allegations of election fraud quite seriously.

The OSCE statement today comes as a leader of Ukraine's opposition parliamentary faction, Yulia Tymoshenko, called for a nationwide strike in order to mobilize against what opposition leaders are calling a rigged election.

The call for a general strike came as opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko told a rally of tens of thousands of supporters in central Kyiv that the government is doing all it can to rig the election in Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's favor.

"[The authorities] will work in their usual way and try at any cost to create the deepest possible falsification," she said. "If this falsification does not help, they will use forceful methods, including canceling the election."

Ukraine's Central Election Commission says that with more than 99 percent of the ballots counted, Yanukovych has 49.42 of the votes and Yushchenko has 46.69 percent.

(Ukraine Service/Interfax-Ukraine/ITAR-TASS/Reuters/AFP/dpa/AP)