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Donetsk Mayor Says No To Georgian Election Observers

"Quick, while no one's watching!"
"Quick, while no one's watching!"
DONETSK, Ukraine -- The mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk has turned down a Georgian offer of observers for Ukraine's presidential election later this month, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Oleksandr Lukyanchenko said the city would be hosting 600 observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and representatives of other international bodies for the January 17 poll.

He said Georgia had offered to send 1,000 observers, which was beyond the city's transport and logistical capabilities.

Grygol Katamadze, Georgia's ambassador to Ukraine, declined to comment on that number in an interview with RFE/RL.

But he said it was up to Ukraine's central election commission to determine the final number, not the mayor of Donetsk.

"I received an explanation that Donetsk is actively preparing for [the 2012] European soccer championship, that many hotels are undergoing reconstruction, so it is very difficult to find accommodation," Katamadze added.

Lukyanchenko also chairs the local election office of pro-Russian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych.

The eastern region has been the power base of Yanukovych, a former prime minister, and his Party of Regions.