Ukraine’s Supreme Court Reviews Election Results
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JONATHAN MILLER: The blizzards had cleared and the fourth day of defiance dawned cloudless and cold, very cold.
But the political temperature stayed red hot; a nation teetering on the brink of constitutional crisis and civil strife. The two Viktors battled it out.
Prayers for peace in Independence Square, but always the clear and present danger of a violent denouement, both sides warning of the volatility yet neither ready to step back from the brink.
As part of the international effort to mediate, former Polish president and veteran of people power protest Lech Walesa joined opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko on the platform.
“All my life I fought for a similar deal,” he told the crowd. “When I see your enthusiasm, I have no doubt you’ll win.” Perhaps realizing, though, that the best mediators are usually impartial, he headed off to meet the declared winner, Viktor Yanukovich, who kept out of sight today.
In the western city of Lviv, Ukraine’s cultural capital, one of five rebel cities, protesters chanted for the police to join the people, which they duly did.
MIKHAIL SENDAT, Lviv Council (translated): Ukrainian people want an all-Ukrainian strike. We will not accept the result of the election, and we will be on strike until democracy wins.
JONATHAN MILLER: On the northeastern outskirts of Kiev, we came across a long convoy of parked buses which the police said had turned up overnight. I wanted to talk to one of the drivers, but he didn’t want to talk to me.
Where did you come from, we asked. Military secret, he said. The buses we found out had brought factory workers from Eastern Ukraine, the Moscow-backed contender’s political heartland.
In the center of town, it was clear Viktor Yanukovich’s supporters wanted to put on a show of strength, too. Nikolai said they were not forced to come here, but their demonstrations lacked the spontaneity of the Yushchenko supporters.
Natasha, another pro-Russian Yanukovich vote fundraiser from Eastern Ukraine, said she and her friends had been taunted and verbally abused by Yushchenko supporters.
Yanukovich might have cheated a bit, she said, but so did Yushchenko. Here the battle lines are well and truly drawn. The two sides are facing off eyeball to eyeball.
At the top of the embankment the blues are shouting, the blues are chanting Yanukovich is the president. Down here the orange brigade are saying, nonsense, it’s Yushchenko. Come and join us.
Each side is accusing the other of electoral violations, each side accusing the other of trying to stage a coup d’etat. Tonight the Supreme Court ruled that the election commission cannot now publish the election results it announced yesterday until the complaint lodged by the declared loser is examined next Monday.
That blocks the inauguration of declared winner Viktor Yanukovich, but Viktor Yushchenko has vowed there will be no let-up in the protests.