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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 18:56 GMT
Night of chaos in Kiev
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News in Kiev

Supporters of Ukraine's opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko in central Kiev
Kiev is in chaos as Viktor Yushchenko claims he has won
It has begun snowing heavily again here in Kiev and it is freezing cold.

But still thousands of opposition supporters are out on the streets of the capital.

I am outside the parliament and the crowd here is waving orange flags and banners of support for the man they have declared the legitimate president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko.

In fact, many here are celebrating a victory of sorts.

Mr Yushchenko swore an oath this evening inside parliament and here on the streets they have taken that as his official inauguration.

But the chairman of parliament has dismissed it as a purely political act.

He says it has no legal status at all. For many in the crowd, like Andrei, this is a turning point for Ukraine, a chance of change he says his country cannot afford to miss.

"At this moment, it's the future of our country, for my son... some personal feelings," he told me.

"So we have to find real solutions that will help develop Ukraine like independence and a European country."

Tonight, though, Kiev is in chaos.

Rumours of a military build-up have been flying around.

Mr Yushchenko himself has called on all sides for calm and Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged both sides to remain within the bounds of the law.

The opposition's room for manoeuvre is extremely limited and tonight no-one here appears willing to take it upon themselves to predict exactly how events will develop from here.




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