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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 November, 2004, 13:28 GMT
Ex-Soviet bloc states mull election
Ukrainians protesting
Ukrainian opposition supporters have displayed the Georgian flag

Several countries in the former Soviet bloc have lined up behind Russia in endorsing the disputed result of Ukraine's presidential election.

A notable exception is Georgia, which on the first anniversary of its own "rose" revolution sees itself as having led where Ukraine now follows.

Moldova has also openly broken ranks by criticising the conduct of the polls.


Following the congratulatory message sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the pro-Moscow candidate Viktor Yanukovych, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko telephoned the latter to offer his own congratulations before the results had been declared.

Mr Lukashenko's press office said that during the conversation, "the president said he was completely confident that relations between Ukraine and Belarus will continue to develop as dynamically as they have done in the past".

The presidents of three Central Asian countries also added their voices.

"Your victory shows that the Ukrainian people have made a choice in favour of the unity of the nation, of democratic development and economic progress," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev wrote in a letter to Mr Yanukovych.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov sent his "sincere congratulations" to Mr Yanukovych.

What is happening in Ukraine today clearly attests to the importance of Georgia's example for the rest of the world
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
The UzReport.com web site quoted Mr Karimov as saying he was "deeply convinced that the acting Ukrainian prime minister's activity in the high post will serve to further strengthen the country's independence and the prosperity of its people".

Kyrgyz President Askar Askayev also sent a message to Mr Yanukovych expressing his satisfaction.

"On behalf of the Kyrgyz people, and from me personally, please accept congratulations on the occasion of your election to the high post of Ukrainian president," the message said.

The state-controlled media in Turkmenistan have yet to report the outcome of the polls.

Stability call

Two other CIS countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan, were more ambivalent, stressing that the most important thing was to preserve the unity and stability of Ukraine.

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said that he had not favoured either candidate, but was prepared to congratulate whichever one the Ukrainian election commission decided was the winner.

"The sooner the tension subsides, the better," Armenia's Noyan Tapan news agency quoted him as saying.

A member of the Azerbaijani government also expressed concern that Ukraine could become destabilised.

Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov was quoted by the Azerbaijani news agency Turan as saying it was important to prevent the country from splitting into two.


The message coming from Georgia was unashamedly pro-opposition. President Mikhail Saakashvili said he was proud that Georgian flags were being flown by Ukrainian opposition supporters in Kiev.

In November 2003, an alliance of opposition parties led by Mr Saakashvili challenged the results of parliamentary elections that initially declared the party of veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze the winner.

"What is happening in Ukraine today clearly attests to the importance of Georgia's example for the rest of the world," he said in a statement broadcast by Georgia's Rustavi-2 TV.

Moldova also raised concerns over the conduct of the election.

The country's foreign ministry issued a statement saying that "basic democratic principles were distorted" and expressing regret that the poll "lacked the objective criteria necessary for their recognition by both the citizens of Ukraine and the international community".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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