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Confusion, Distrust in Ukrainian Election

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Section: Accounts Geography: Europe Ukraine Topics: elections

November 22, 2004

Confusion, Distrust in Ukrainian Election

by Geoffrey Hamilton

Both sides in the Ukrainian presidential election are claiming victory following poll closures on November 21st. Independent election observers from around the world, including Ontario Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, state that Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich is believed to be in the lead, though they hasten to add that the Moscow-backed candidate is known to have organized the election to boost his apparent support.

Liberal opponent Viktor Yushchenko, who is widely supported abroad, has stated, "I believe in my victory, but the government ... has staged total fraud in the elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions." Numbers released by the central electoral commission show Mr. Yanukovich leading 50% to Mr. Yushchenko's 48%, but exit polling conducted by foreign observers earlier in the day gave Yushchenko a decided lead. Further suspect is the commission's assertion that the Donetsk region, Yanukovich's homeland, enjoyed a 96% voter turnout in comparison with the country's 79% average. Independent observers were barred from monitoring polling stations in the Donetsk region.

The official results will not be known until all votes are counted, a process expected to take up to 15 days. Even once the votes are counted, it will not be known how the suspicions surrounding the electoral process will be resolved as there is no precedent for election recounts in Ukraine.

» Al Jazeera: Ukraine's election candidate cries fraud

» BBC: Ukraine's key election 'rigged'

» Reuters: Cheating alleged in Ukraine poll

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