Mass demonstrations in Kiev

Tue 23 Nov 2004

Hundreds of thousands of opposition demonstrators have flooded into the heart of the Ukrainian capital Kiev to show support for their leader. For a second day people are rallying for pro-western liberal Viktor Yuschenko, saying Sunday’s presidential election was rigged.

Official results give Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych a narrow lead. The central electoral commission proclaimed Yanukovych the winner, with 49.4% to Yuschenko’s 46.7%.

Observers for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Sunday’s run-off vote fell far short of European democratic norms. The organisation, which also reported serious irregularities in the first round, said violations included a continuing “media bias” in favour of Yanukovych and intimidation of observers and voters.

The US’ official observer, Senator Richard Lugar, alleged “concerted and forceful” fraud and the EU called on Ukraine to review the election.

However, Moscow, which backed Yanukovych, recognised the result.

Source: BBC World