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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 11:19 GMT
Sullen Donetsk watches Yushchenko

By Helen Fawkes
BBC News, Donetsk

Smoke billows from the huge factory chimneys which overshadow the outskirts of Donetsk.

Protesters burn the dummy of Viktor Yushchenko in Donetsk
Protesters burned an effigy of Viktor Yushchenko in Donetsk
The air is so thick with pollution that you can feel it in your throat.

More than 12,000 people are employed at the metal plant alone. This is the industrial heart of Ukraine.

Metal workers Alexander Kirilshin and Mikhail Borodin proudly voted for Viktor Yanukovych.

"The mood isn't very happy," Alexander admits.

"Nothing good will happen over the next few years as the new government won't be able to achieve anything," said Mikhail.

During the political crisis that followed Ukraine's disputed presidential election in November there were fears that the country might split. Mr Yanukovych, who was prime minister at the time, was initially declared the winner.

Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of Kiev and western Ukraine claiming the ballot was rigged.

In the Russian-speaking east of the country, there were calls for separatism and industrial strikes. The result was annulled due to election fraud.

Political lull

Viktor Yushchenko won the re-run poll in December. Mr Yanukovych got 40% of the vote. In Donetsk, he polled 93%. Ukraine's new president was sworn in last weekend.

If people lose what they've got now - their high wages and pensions - then they will start to protest
Olga Parfinenko,
But many of the workers here told me that they won't be calling for any action.

"We'll wait and see what he does as president. One person can hardly change anything in our country," said Mikhail.

In the city centre, a few minutes' drive away from the factory, there are no demonstrations.

Yanukovych supporters set up a small tent city in Donetsk although it only lasted a few days before being taken down last week.

"For the moment there probably will not be any more protests in Donetsk. When we had our own demonstrations during the elections they always started after 6pm when people had finished their work," says analyst Olga Parfinenko.

"But if people lose what they've got now - their high wages and pensions - then they will start to protest."

The city's main square is still named after Lenin almost 14 years on from independence.

On the day of the inauguration this is where few hundred people burnt an effigy of President Yushchenko.

As I start to do interviews on Lenin Square I'm surrounded by 20 or 30 people shouting and arguing. They're angry about the outcome of the repeat election. Sergey Buntovsky from a pro-Russian political party explains why.

"Yushchenko got his power illegally," Sergey finally manages to tell me.

"He's not the legitimate leader of the country. His approach will lead to the separatism. It's already caused tension between Ukrainians."

Fear of reprisals

In the newsroom of Ukraina TV, campaign materials promoting Mr Yanukovych can still be seen.

This station which is based in Donetsk backed the pro-Russian candidate during the election. But there's concern that there could be reprisals.

Ukraina TV has now stopped broadcasting its main news in Russian. Fearful it may be taken off the air, it now uses Ukrainian instead.

"We've already been threatened with a criminal investigation. We've been told our activities are anti-Ukrainian," says Genadiy Kandaurov, the President of Ukraina TV.

Here in the east of Ukraine, people are not happy with the new president.

They are worried that he will follow a nationalist agenda and ignore their pro-Russian interests.

But for the time being. it is unlikely that the country will break up or that there will be any mass protests.


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