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UNCERTAINTY HOVERS OVER UKRAINIAN VOTE COUNT... Central Election Commission (TsVK) head Serhiy Kivalov told journalists in Kyiv on 3 November that the 31 October presidential ballot may be declared invalid in some constituencies, ITAR-TASS reported. "About 50 election constituencies did not submit their protocols or the protocols they submitted were not properly executed. Courts are now considering violations in some of the [225] constituencies," Kivalov said. The TsVK stopped the vote count on 2 November, announcing that with 97.67 percent of the ballots counted Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych won 39.88 percent of the vote, while opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko obtained 39.22 percent. Meanwhile, Ukrainian news agencies reported on 3 November that the TsVK has decided to verify 30 percent of the polling-station protocols in 132 constituencies. Yushchenko's campaigners have charged that the verification was ordered to steal what they believe to be a win by Yushchenko. Yushchenko wrote in the "Financial Times" on 3 November that his staff will "challenge" the 31 October poll results. His staff pledged to complete a parallel vote count by 7 November. JM

...AS CHIEF ELECTION OFFICIAL SAID TO BE BLACKMAILED BY AUTHORITIES. Lawmaker Oleh Rybachuk from Yushchenko's Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus, said in Kyiv on 3 November that TsVK chef Serhiy Kivalov has not yet announced the final vote count in the presidential election because the presidential administration has threatened to instigate a criminal case against his daughter if he fails to ensure a "necessary election result" for Premier Yanukovych, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( reported on 3 November. Rybachuk said the criminal case could be linked with the business activity of the Antarktyka fishing company, but failed to provide details. Kivalov denied that the presidential administration is putting pressure on him personally and on the commission concerning the release of final results of the voting. "[My daughter] is not involved in any business activities," Interfax quoted him as saying. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONGRATULATES BUSH ON ELECTION VICTORY. President Leonid Kuchma has congratulated U.S. President George W. Bush on his victory in the 2 November presidential election, Ukrainian news agencies reported on 4 November, quoting the presidential press service. In his congratulatory message Kuchma said he hopes the United States under Bush's leadership will remain a "world leader that guards peace, stability, and democracy." "I believe that the second term of your presidency will become a new stage in developing the constructive Ukrainain-American cooperation, founded on the commonality of democratic values and proximity of interests in the international arena," Kuchma noted. JM