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Solana In Kyiv To Help Mediate Ukraine Poll

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana 26 November 2004 -- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has arrived in Kyiv to help mediate a peaceful resolution to Ukraine's disputed presidential election.

Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski also arrived in the capital today to offer his help. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, and Jan Kubis, the secretary-general of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, are also expected in the Ukrainian capital later today.

The foreign envoys are due to meet with Yushchenko and Yanukovych, the official winner of the 21 November presidential election, as well as with outgoing President Leonid Kuchma. The talks are aimed at defusing the crisis sparked by the disputed polls, which Yushchenko says were fraudulent.

Results On Hold

In a surprise move late yesterday, Ukraine's Supreme Court delayed Yanukovych's planned inauguration by barring the Central Election Commission (TsVK) from publishing the official results until complaints of fraud are reviewed.

The Supreme Court is tentatively scheduled to start hearing the opposition's claim on 29 November.

A spokesman for Yanukovych, Serhyi Tyhypko, criticized the court's decision, saying that "no one" has the right to annul the official outcome of the vote.

By contrast, the court's ruling boosted the morale of the hundreds of thousands of opposition sympathizers who have peacefully protested in Kyiv and other cities for the past five days.

Yushchenko personally announced the decision to a cheering crowd gathered on Kyiv's central Independence Square.

"The Supreme Court of Ukraine has decided that until it makes a decision regarding the complaints filed by Yushchenko, the TsVK is forbidden to officially publish the results of the presidential election," Yushchenko said.

Yushchenko, however, warned his supporters that the political fight is far from over.

"I am telling you, this is only the beginning. It is small compensation for the suffering that we have endured during these days, but we suffer for Ukraine," Yushchenko said.

Protests Continue

Peaceful opposition protests continued all through the night. Spurred by the Supreme Court's ruling, demonstrators early today moved toward the government headquarters, the presidential administration, the parliament, and the central bank.

In a nationally televised address late yesterday, Yanukovych urged the opposition to show restraint.

"I saw that my opponents have started inviting students and schoolchildren to take to the streets. This is romanticism. This is all very, very dangerous. This is why, today, I once again call upon all Ukrainian citizens to calm down," Yanukovych said.

But the opposition has shown no sign of letting up.

In the western city of Lviv, a Yushchenko stronghold, teachers went on strike today and hundreds of students boycotted classes.

Stoppages were also reported in Vynnitsya and the Transcarpathia region.

Yushchenko's supporters have also announced plans to block off Ukraine's main highways and called upon army and security officers to join the growing civil disobedience movement.

(RFE/RL and agencies)

[To see RFE/RL's continuing coverage of "Ukraine's Contested Election," click here.]