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Ukraine: OSCE Criticizes Presidential Campaign

Kyiv, 1 November 1999 (NCA) - The head of the monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Ukraine says the election campaign prior to yesterday's presidential vote was marred by what he called serious violations.

Simon Osborn said the most serious of these was media harassment by authorities backing incumbent Leonid Kuchma. He said other violations included officials improperly impounding campaign materials and taking part in the campaign contrary to the election law.

Osborn also said the OSCE is examining allegations of vote rigging, but that infringements do not appear to be widespread. In a preliminary report today, the organization noted counting irregularities at several polling stations.

Meanwhile, a monitoring team from the U.S. Republican party has expressed concern about Ukraine militia members who inserted themselves into the balloting process in several areas. The International Republican Institute also said there were problems in distributing ballots in Simferopol and in counting ballots in the capital Kyiv.

Kuchma will face communist party leader Petro Symonenko in two weeks in a run-off after neither was able to win more than 50 percent of the vote. With 96 percent of the ballots counted, Kuchma leads the field of 13 candidates with about 36 percent of the vote. Symonenko placed second with a 22.5 percent share.