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Ukraine: Leaders Gather For Kuchma's Inauguration

Kyiv, 30 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is to be inaugurated today for his second five-year term in office after winning a convincing election victory against Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko earlier this month. Officials from across the former Soviet Union are expected to attend today's ceremonies in Kyiv, though Russian President Boris Yeltsin cancelled his planned visit after being hospitalized yesterday with pneumonia. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is attending in Yeltsin's place. While in Kyiv, Putin also is expected to meet with Georgian State Secretary Vazha Lordkipanidze. Officials in Moscow say Yeltsin still plans to meet with Kuchma when the Ukrainian president visits Moscow on December 6.

Kuchma gained more than 56 percent of a second round runoff vote on Nov. 14. Symonenko, who captured about 38 percent, had asked the Supreme Court to annul the results. He cited widespread violations of electoral procedures and voters' rights.

Foreign observers who monitored the runoff also reported incidents of vote-rigging, illegal campaigning, and other election law violations. But they said the incidents were not widespread enough to change the outcome of the ballot.