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Ukraine: Yushchenko Bloc Scores Apparent Victory

Kyiv, 2 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- With 97 percent of the votes tabulated from the 31 March elections to Ukrainian parliament, the country's Central Election Commission said that former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine won 23 percent of the vote, the Communist Party 20 percent, and For a United Ukraine 12 percent. Only half of the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada was chosen by proportional party lists, the other half being selected in districts where candidates supporting the policies of President Leonid Kuchma dominated.

An early and unofficial breakdown of the vote shows that Our Ukraine should take about 110 seats, For a United Ukraine should have about 105 seats, the Communist Party about 65, the Socialist Party of ex-parliamentary Speaker Oleksandr Moroz about 24 seats, slightly more than Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc and the Social Democratic Party.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) yesterday said the election shows some progress toward international standards over previous elections.

In a statement before the announcement of final results, the OSCE praised Ukraine's improved election law, an efficient central election administration, and the broad spectrum of 33 parties and blocs. The organization said that Ukrainian media showed improved access for parties and candidates to TV debates and advertising.

But the statement also said that nearly all media coverage remained highly biased, and state-funded TV gave disproportionate coverage to pro-presidential candidates.

The OSCE said its final conclusion on the election's fairness will depend on the calculation of the results and the level of confidence in the outcome.