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Thousands Rally In Kyiv To Demand Fair Vote

22 December 2004 -- Tens of thousands of supporters of Ukraine's opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko massed today in the center of the capital to press demands that a repeat presidential election on 26 December be conducted fairly.

Yushchenko praised supporters in Kyiv's Independence Square for weeks of peaceful protests, that ended with the Supreme Court ruling the 21 November poll was fraudulent and that the new election must be held.

Yushchenko said his supporters should thank themselves. He said they are helping him "peacefully, beautifully, elegantly, and without any drops of blood" change Ukraine.

Yushchenko, in a statement posted on his website, pledged today to maintain good relations with Russia. He said that, if elected, his first official trip will be to Russia.

More than 12,000 foreign observers have been registered as poll observers.


[For more RFE/RL coverage and analysis of the political crisis in Ukraine, click here.]