Ukraine vote raises concern in Berlin
23 November 2004 , KIEV - Germany has joined other nations in raising doubts about Sunday's presidential vote in Ukraine as Ukrainians descended on the country's capital Kiev en masse to protest the election outcome.
23 November 2004
KIEV - Germany has joined other nations in raising doubts about Sunday's presidential vote in Ukraine as Ukrainians descended on the country's capital Kiev en masse to protest the election outcome.
The demonstrators hope to pressure parliament to deal with alleged voting fraud by the self-proclaimed winner of the election, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Tuesday expressed his government's "concern" about the conduct of Sunday's election, a German Embassy statement said.
The United States and European Union, as well as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have also called into question the legitimacy of the vote. Russian President Vladimir Putin has however congratulated Yanukovich on his election victory.
Over 300,000 protesters had gathered in Kiev's central Independence Square and its vicinity by midday as additional supporters from the country's provinces continued to pour into the city.
A massive column of demonstrators began during the early afternoon to make their way towards the Verhovna Rada parliament, which was scheduled later in the day to debate the election results in a special session.
Yanukovich's opponent, former National Bank head Viktor Yuschenko, in a speech prior to the march cautioned the crowd to remain peaceful.
Official results of the controversial polls have not been released although reports from count centres gave pro-Russian Yanukovich a modest lead over reformist opposition candidate Yuschenko.
With 99.38 percent of the voting counted on Monday, Yanukovich led Yuschenko by a margin of 2.72 percentage points, with 49.42 percent of the vote to Yuschenko's 46.7 percent.
The prime minister's apparent lead had however prompted thousands to begin gathering in Kiev Monday amid widespread allegations of vote falsification by the Yanukovich camp.
Participants from all of the country's 25 regions as well as people from neighbouring Belarus and Russia had registered with protest organisers.
Protesters reported efforts by authorities to prevent their arrival in the capital by removing rail tickets from sale and using lorries and dump trucks to block busses travelling to the city.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Tuesday expressed his government's "concern" that Sunday's vote had been fixed, according to a statement made public by the German embassy in Kiev.
Yuschenko has accused the government of active complicity in the alleged falsification and declared "a constitutional crisis".
Subject: German news