BBC NEWS, UK, Monday, December 27, 2004

KIEV – Election officials in Ukraine have declared opposition leader Viktor
Yushchenko the winner of the country’s presidential elections by a clear

With more than 98% of the votes counted, Mr Yushchenko is eight points
ahead of the Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych. The election was a re-run
of a vote last month, won narrowly by Mr Yanukovych, but annulled due
to fraud.

There have been accusations of dirty tricks throughout the campaign,
including allegations of a plot to murder Mr Yushchenko.

Doctors recently confirmed that Mr Yushchenko, who developed a
disfiguring skin condition in September, had been poisoned with dioxin.
Mass demonstrations in the capital, Kiev, against the first result have
continued all month. Mr Yushchenko declared victory at midnight GMT
while counting was still in its early stages.

“Today, in Ukraine, a new political year has begun,” he told a jubilant
crowd of supporters. “This is the beginning of a new epoch, the
beginning of a new great democracy.”

Thousands of demonstrators, many wearing the campaign’s trademark
orange, celebrated with a concert and fireworks display.

Many have spent the last weeks camping in Kiev’s Independence Square
despite sub-zero temperatures.
International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE) which is monitoring the elections say the re-run has been
much fairer than the earlier rounds.

“The people of this great country made a great step forwards to free and
fair elections by electing the next president of Ukraine,” said the head of
the OSCE monitoring mission, Bruce George.

Ukraine has been plunged into bitter political crisis over the elections.
The first election result gave Mr Yanukovych 49.46% and Mr Yushchenko
46.61%. But Western poll observers complained of serious irregularities
and said the vote failed to meet international standards.

As demonstrations mounted and the political tension heightened, the
Supreme Court investigated and ruled the results invalid, paving the way
for fresh elections. -30-


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