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UKRAINIAN CRISIS OVERSHADOWS RUSSIA-EU SUMMIT... The crisis over Ukraine's disputed presidential election cast a shadow over the European Union summit, as Moscow and Brussels failed to negotiate a "strategic partnership" agreement, Russian and international news agencies reported on 25 November. "We have not reached agreement on all" points, AP quoted Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende as saying after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "There is still a great deal to be done." However, both said the talks proved valuable. Putin said he hopes an agreement will be reached by the next EU summit in May 2005. Balkenende said the sides could not agree on security cooperation, specifically regarding Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, and the Caucasus states. The EU wants to forge closer ties with the ex-Soviet states while Moscow is wary of an expanding Europe in its sphere of influence. Russia has complained about Europe's interference over human rights violations in Chechnya and about the treatment of Russian-speaking minorities in new EU members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. BW

...MOSCOW'S EU ENVOY ACCUSES WEST OF MEDDLING IN UKRAINE... Russian envoy to the EU Sergei Yastrzhembskii accused the West, particularly the United States, of trying to unduly influence Ukraine's political crisis, Russian and international news agencies reported on 27 November. "It's impossible not to see the direct involvement of the American Congress, individual congressmen who are spending their days and nights in Kyiv -- foundations, nongovernmental organizations, consultants, experts," he said in an interview on RTR television on the same day. "It's clear and obvious to everyone." Yastrzhembskii said the street protests in Ukraine have "the same signature" as those that toppled Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, and also likened them to Poland's anticommunist Solidarity movement in the 1980s. He accused "certain forces in the West" of attempting to use "so-called street oligarchy and street democracy" to influence the outcome of Ukraine's political crisis. "Someone wants to make citizens of states of the post-Soviet space...think that many very serious political and electoral problems can be solved involving the crowd," Yastrzhembskii said. BW

...AS MOSCOW AND BRUSSELS SPAR OVER ELECTION RESULTS. Speaking after the EU summit meeting, Russian President Putin stood firm in his support of Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, international news agencies reported on 25 November. "I congratulated Viktor Yanukovych" and the election "results are absolutely clear," AFP quoted Putin as saying after the EU summit in The Hague, Netherlands. "From my perspective, all issues should be addressed within the framework of the constitution and legislation. All claims should go to the courts," Putin said. "All of this should be addressed through dialogue," he added. But the EU leaders said Brussels considered the results of the election to be unacceptable. "The election did not meet international standards. Therefore the EU is not able to accept the result," Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende said. The Netherlands currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU. BW

RUSSIAN LIBERAL PARTIES PICKET UKRAINIAN EMBASSY... More than 200 protesters from the Yabloko party and the Union of Rightist Forces picketed the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow in support of Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko on 28 November, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. Wearing orange scarves and waving orange flags, the symbols of Yushchenko's presidential campaign, the demonstrators chanted "We Won't Be Overcome." A smaller group of counter demonstrators, led by the leader of the Working Russia party, Viktor Anpilov, gathered nearby to support Ukranian Prime Minister Yanukovych. About 20 police officers kept the two groups apart. BW

...AS COMMUNIST LEADER CRITICIZES UKRANIAN PARLIAMENT. Gennadii Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, criticized members of Ukraine's parliament for passing a resolution calling the presidential elections invalid, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 November. "It is not a democracy when under the pressure of an aggressive mob the parliament adopts decisions trampling upon the expression of the will of the majority of the people," Zyuganov said. Zyuganov also criticized Ukrainian communists for endorsing a "document supporting aggressive ambitions of [Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor] Yushchenko." He added that developments in Ukraine must "be guided strictly by the letter of the law. Only the Central Election Commission, not the parliament, has the right to determine the results of the voting." BW

YABLOKO PROTESTS ELECTRONIC VOTING TABULATION. Some 30 members of Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko party gathered outside the Central Election Commission (TsIK) on 23 November to protest plans to tabulate the votes from an upcoming State Duma by-election electronically, Ekho Moskvy reported. Yabloko Deputy Chairman Sergei Mitrokhin is among the candidates for the Duma race, which is scheduled for 5 December. Votes are normally counted by hand in Russia, but the TsIK has ordered electronic tabulation for this race as an experiment. The Yabloko activists charge that counting the votes by computer will invite fraud. They urged the TsIK to verify the votes from at least some precincts by hand, which might deter attempts to tamper with the results, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 24 November. Meanwhile, Yabloko leader Yavlinskii, a native of Lvov and fluent Ukrainian speaker, issued a statement on 26 November blasting Russian state media coverage of the current Ukrainian political crisis, reported. Yavlinskii urged journalists not to "shame" Russia with "lies" that are obvious to anyone who compares Russian state media reports to information coming out of Ukraine. LB

KAZAKH, KYRGYZ, UZBEK LEADERS CONGRATULATE YANUKOVYCH. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, and Uzbek President Islam Karimov have all congratulated Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on his victory in the bitterly disputed 21 November presidential runoff, agencies reported. President Nazarbaev expressed his "heartfelt congratulations," adding, "Your victory testifies to the Ukrainian people's choice in favor of a united nation, a democratic path of development, and economic progress," RIA-Novosti reported on 25 November. In his congratulatory message, President Akaev voiced the hope that Yanukovych's election would lead to broader ties between Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 26 November. President Karimov's message struck a similar tone, RIA-Novosti reported. The runoff results have sparked mass protests in Ukraine and widespread international skepticism; the only other world leaders to have congratulated Yanukovych are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. DK

YUSHCHENKO ADHERENTS BLOCK GOVERNMENT, PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION OFFICES. Tens of thousands of people came to Independence Square in Kyiv on 29 November for the eighth consecutive day of protests against what the opposition deems to be massive fraud in favor of Premier Viktor Yanukovych in the 21 November presidential vote, Ukrainian media reported. According to the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (, two separate groups of pro-Yushchenko backers have been blocking the government offices and the presidential administration headquarters by forming "living chains" before entrances to these buildings since last night. JM

UKRAINIAN EASTERN, SOUTHERN REGIONS WANT YANUKOVYCH FOR PRESIDENT... Some 4,000 local councilors from 15 Ukrainian eastern and southern regions at a congress in Severodonetsk on 28 November expressed their support for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as the legally elected president and condemned the pro-Yushchenko opposition for leading Ukraine toward a "territorial split and catastrophe," Ukrainian media reported. "If the [current] coup d'etat is being developed further and an illegitimate president comes to power, participants in the congress reserve themselves the right to 'adequate actions and self-defense,'" the congress said in a statement. The participants warned that they will hold on 12 December a "referendum on a possible change of Ukraine's administrative-territorial system" if the situation in Ukraine develops under "the worst crisis scenario." The congress was attended by Yanukovych and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. Yanukovych told Reuters that he does not support the idea of a referendum on regional autonomy." JM

...AS DONETSK COUNCILLORS VOTE TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON AUTONOMY IN FEDERATION... The Donetsk Oblast Council on 28 November voted 155 to one to set a regional referendum for 5 December on introducing constitutional amendments that would change Ukraine into a federal state and give Donetsk Oblast a status of republic in the new federation, Ukrainian media reported. The Donetsk councilors justified their proposal by the ongoing postelection standoff which, according to them, "is threatening public security, the constitutional system, [as well as] the life and heath of citizens." The Donetsk Oblast Council also affirmed that Yanukovych is the legally elected president and expressed its lack of confidence in the Verkhovna Rada, which passed a resolution declaring the presidential runoff flawed. Yanukovych, who attended the Donetsk Oblast Council session, reportedly called on the councilors "not to take any radical steps." JM

...AND OPPOSITION CALLS ON KUCHMA TO REACT AGAINST SEPARATISM THREAT. The Committee of National Salvation (KNP), a body set up by Yushchenko political backers and allies to coordinate the ongoing protest actions in Ukraine, posed on 28 November an ultimatum to incumbent President Leonid Kuchma, the "Ukrayinska pravda" reported on 28 November. The committee demanded that Kuchma sack Prime Minister Yanukovych for his contribution to the falsification of the 21 November presidential ballot and for participating in "separatist actions;" submit new candidates for the Central Election Commission membership to the Verkhovna Rada; fire the governors of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv Oblasts for initiating a "split of Ukraine;" and order the Prosecutor-General's Office to immediately launch a probe against "secessionists" in Ukraine. The KNP has threatened to begin blocking Kuchma's travels in Ukraine if he fails to comply with the ultimatum within 24 hours. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DECLARES PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF UNACCEPTABLE. The Verkhovna Rada on 27 November passed a nonbinding resolution saying that the second round of the presidential election in Ukraine on 21 November "took place with violations of the law and does not reflect the will of the citizens," Ukrainian media reported. The resolution was supported by 255 deputies. There were also proposals to declare the presidential runoff invalid or to deem the entire November presidential ballot inconclusive and repeat the runoff or the entire election after introducing amendments to the presidential election law, but these proposals failed to obtain a majority of 226 votes. "We think that declaring the election invalid would put us into a complex legal situation," lawmaker Roman Zvarych from Yushchenko's Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus commented. The Ukrainian parliament has no legal authority to annul the election results. JM

YUSHCHENKO DEMANDS NEW PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT. Yushchenko told a crowd of his backers demonstrating for the fifth consecutive day in Kyiv on 26 November that he wants a new presidential vote on 12 December in order to overcome the current standoff over the official results of the 21 November presidential runoff, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Yushchenko's proposal is supported by the European Union, according to Reuters. JM

WEST REJECTS OFFICIAL RESULTS OF UKRAINIAN BALLOT, MEDIATES IN ONGOING STANDOFF. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on 25 November rejected the officially announced results of the Ukrainian election, according to which Yanukovych beat Yushchenko by nearly 3 percent of the vote, and warned Ukrainian authorities of "consequences" for the U.S.-Ukrainian relations if they do not investigate "the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse," Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. The Netherlands, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said the same day that the official results do not reflect the will of the Ukrainian people and called on Ukrainian authorities "to redress election irregularities" reported by foreign observers. EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski visited Kyiv on 26 November to press Yanukovych and Yushchenko to sit at a negotiating table. Yanukovych and Yushchenko, in the presence of Solana, Kwasniewski, and Russian Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov, agreed to form a working group to address the postelection crisis. JM

UKRAINIAN SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS VERDICT AWARDING VICTORY TO YANUKOVYCH. The Supreme Court on 25 November blocked the publication of the official presidential election results awarding victory to Yanukovych, Ukrainian media reported. The decision means that until the court has finished examining complaints about alleged massive election fraud from the Yushchenko election staff, Yanukovych cannot be inaugurated as president. The previous day, the Central Election Commission announced that Yanukovych won the 21 November runoff with 49.46 percent of the vote (15.1 million votes) to Yushchenko's 46.61 percent (14.2 million votes). Yushchenko claims that the election authorities stole more than 3 million votes from him, primarily in Ukraine's eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. The Supreme Court began reviewing Yushchenko's complaints on 29 November. JM

MOLDOVA REJECTS RESULTS OF UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 26 November that said the Ukrainian presidential election does "not meet standards [that would allow the results to be] accepted by the international community," dpa, Infotag, and Flux reported. Earlier that day, the ruling Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) said in a statement that the rejection of the 21 November ballot by Ukrainian Communist Party First Secretary Petro Symonenko is "fully justified," according to Infotag. MS