The Supreme Court declared the results of Ukraine's disputed presidential run-off election invalid Friday and ordered a new run-off be held on Dec. 26, sparking a burst of cheers and fireworks from tens of thousands of opposition supporters rejoicing in Kiev's main square.
The ruling, made after five days of hearings by the court's 21 justices, was a major victory for opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who had rejected the government's demands that an entirely new election be held.
And it was a stinging blow to outgoing President Leonid Kuchma and his powerful ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants to preserve Moscow's centuries-old influence in Ukraine in the face of Yushchenko's followers' desire to move closer to the West. Only a day earlier, Putin had sharply derided the idea of holding a new run-off.
The opposition had pinned its hopes on the court's ruling in its bid to overturn the results of the Nov. 21 run-off vote, in which Kuchma ally Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner. The opposition said the vote was rigged to cheat Yushchenko of victory.
"Today Ukraine has turned to justice, democracy and freedom," Yushchenko told the throng of supporters...
Saturday, December 4
Democracy Wins in Ukraine
Posted by total at 12/04/2004 08:28:00 PM