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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 12:13 GMT
Can new Ukraine elections be free and fair?
Supporters of Ukrainian opposition celebrate

Government and opposition leaders in Ukraine have failed to reach a deal on constitutional reform ahead of the re-run vote later this month.

But the two sides did agree to the appointment of a new central election commission and the need for electoral reform.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected suggestions from Russia that the West was trying to influence events in Ukraine. Opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko has warned all foreign nations not to interfere in the new vote.

Can the re-run vote be free and fair? What can be done to prevent foreign countries interfering? Should the plans for constitutional reform go further? Send us your view. If you are attending any of the protests, send us your photos.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

Well, the whole thing is exciting, but it tastes foul because it's nothing more than a change of political elite. Ukraine is in the list of the most corrupt countries and its economy is still weak, and there's great evidence that such situation will last many years more. Will the western countries help out? Yes and no. Because all the developed democratic countries are only democratic and lawful within their own borders, putside and overseas they act according to advisability and mixed ends. Look at the elections held in Romania. No one talks on the vote fraud. Why? Because Romania will become a part of EU in 2008 year.
Mikhail S. Karpov, Khabarovsk, Russia

Within a few hours after the second run-off 100,000 people went to the central square of Kiev. They took scenery, professional laser shows, huge screens, camps, printed posters, orange clothes and so on. What do you think? Is it really the people's will, or was it prepared and planned action?
Andrew, Donetsk, Ukraine

The two candidates have their roots in the same anti-democratic ruling elite
Yusuke, Kansai, Japan
The two candidates have their roots in the same anti-democratic ruling elite which divided the wealth of the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union" Except one is backed by Bush and the other is backed by Putin. Let me guess which one the western media will glorify
Yusuke, Kansai, Japan

What I would like to know is how are they going to come up with enough international monitors in such a short period of time to make the next election different than the last?
Dennis, Joppa , Al. USA

Why are mass demonstrations regarding elections in the Ukraine played up as sentiment for democracy but not in Venezuela or the US, for that matter?
David Kirsh, Durham, NC, USA

It's Ukraine's day and Ukraine's revolution
Oleana S., Kiev, Ukraine
The heart and soul of the "orange" revolution is pure Ukrainian. Others have attempted to influence it, but to no avail. Voices to the contrary are pure propaganda. It's Ukraine's day and Ukraine's revolution. The momentum is truly awesome. Come see for yourself!
Oleana S., Kiev, Ukraine

The Ukraine election had over 4000 polling stations and less than 3000 international observers. It would be prudent for the international community including Russia to send enough observers to insure a fair and binding vote that no one can call foul. I think a minimum of 10000 observers is needed to cover the polls and the ballot counting. Insuring a fair and binding vote is in the world's best interest, not just in Ukraine, but anywhere they allow elections.
Michael Good, Dearborn MI USA

The Ukrainians should decide their own destiny by open and honest democratic processes without any outside meddling. I admire their political maturity. The opposition demonstrations have been models of restraint and civility.
Larry, Glendale, USA

To become a Democracy it no longer matters who votes, it matters who counts them.
Bob Guy, RI USA

Some may say that the demonstrations and the supreme court decision to annul the election results is a result of western influence and 'meddling', particularly by the US. This maybe the case with regards to the demonstrations where the 'hand' of western organisations has been seen. But those who complain of this should also consider the influence that an increasingly autocratic Russia is trying to exert in Ukraine, a country where the majority of the population seem to want to feel free from Russian political and economic domination and to also get rid of a corrupt regime
Roman Potschynok, Southampton, England

I hope that Western countries who have supported what has happened in Ukraine will back up their words with action and money
J Moss, Cockermouth, UK
Like most living in the West I applaud Ukraine for finally standing up against its corrupt government. My Ukrainian wife is more concerned with the effects this will all have on those who actually live there. Banks are closed, food is becoming scarce, factories may not have the money to pay people. And some of the reports in the pro-Russian media about what might happen if Yuschenko wins are quite scary. I hope that Western countries who have supported what has happened in Ukraine will back up their words with action and money, especially regarding the possibility of EU membership.
Julian and Olga Moss, Cockermouth, UK

These events have no precedent in Ukraine. I am still sceptical about the choice of candidates we had/have, but at least the Ukraine has a chance here to make a change, people care! Maybe just maybe it will be a breaking through point in the history of the country that has been waiting for it a long time.
Tasha, London, UK

It is too early to call it a victory, for the kleptocracy that runs Ukraine is still in power. Yes, the influence it wields is declining by the day, which is a hopeful sign. Yushchenko is the best Ukraine has, and if he wins the third round, much as he has won the second, it will send a direct message to other law-breaking post-Soviet regimes, from neighbouring autocratic Belarus to Putin's increasingly authoritarian Russia, that justice will eventually prevail in those states, too. And that would be the best New Year's gift to democracy in the world.
Yury Epstein, Lincolnshire, IL, USA

I have been so inspired by the masses of people that have braved the cold
Alissa, Chicago, USA
I have been so inspired by the masses of people that have braved the cold and have shown the world what it means to overcome the fear of retaliation. To get the government to realize that the people were not going to back down or go home, it makes a true shift in power all that more possible. I am so excited about this time in the Ukraine and think that the rest of the world (especially the USA) can learn something from your highly organized demonstrations.
Alissa, Chicago, USA

Amazing isn't it ? We have had this experience only last year in Tbilisi and now we are feeling as if it was a deja-vu - and this intuition proves how much human desire of freedom is the same all over the planet. It is a comeback of people, a "revenge" for 100 years of totalitarian regime. Funny that it started in Georgia - Stalin's birthplace as if we wanted to condemn the evil in us. Now it is Kiev's turn. Let's hope the re-revolution will reach Moscow - the place where the regime started in 1917.
Ika Avaliani, Tbilisi, Georgia

Just another example of the USA getting their way. The party they backed lost, so this whole situation is created to undermine Russia. Yes, the election probably was rigged, but this is standard practice in these places and has always been the case - why all of a sudden is the world concerned this time? In my view, it is because it is in USA's interest is why.
Nikos, London, UK

It's still too early to call this a victory of real democracy.
Alex Moroz, London, UK
It's a very good sign demonstrating that there is much more to the present-day Ukraine than underdeveloped democracy with ubiquitous corruption. However, it's still too early to call this a victory of real democracy. We have to wait and see how the third round of election goes and what follows it. If the Ukrainian authorities (via the Central Electoral Commission) manage to ensure that every Ukrainian vote is dealt with diligently and any attempt of fraud made impossible, then Ukraine can proudly say that their democracy, albeit not perfect and still on steep learning curve, does work in critical situations.
Alex Moroz, London, UK

This is a decision which will shape the Ukraine's future. So far the Ukraine's political system has lived up to expectations. Now the important part is to conduct new elections fair and square. It is also a chance to reconcile the Western and Eastern parts of the Ukraine.
Levan Shalamberidze, Washington DC

I have family and friends in the Ukraine. This is not as shown in the media as some brave push for freedom. Instead it is an attempt to replace one bunch of gangsters with another bunch of slightly less corrupt gangsters. Don't be fooled, there's much less revolution here than meets the eye. That's why the marching parties are so friendly to each other. In the end there's not a choice for a real change, or a really good government.
Roarke, London UK

there is much work to do to re-run the election transparently and fairly.
Myroslava Bychko, Lviv, Ukraine
The court decision has shown that our people still have what to fight for. Our weapon is our strong and good will. Nevertheless, this is only one of the first steps made out of this mud, our country is flooded with, but it gives us strength and belief in victory of truth and justice. Still there is much work to do to re-run the election transparently and fairly.
Myroslava Bychko, Lviv, Ukraine

I don't think we have a enough information to call this a "victory for democracy". The Ukrainian Supreme Court said that evidence of fraud was not considered, not that fraud was proven - which seems a more appropriate standard for overturning a democratic election. The focus of this story has always been about people taking to the streets and threats of civil war and this decision seems more about all of that than the evidence against Yanukovych. Democracy does not mean that he who screams the loudest gets his way. For all we know, Yanukovych won the original election fairly and democracy is being thrown out the window by having a second election. Hopefully, in the Ukraine the evidence has been discussed and is valid because the Western media hasn't given it much scrutiny at all.
Anthony, USA

This was the best outcome Ukrainian people could hope for at this time. I am glad that the events did not escalate any further and that the court made democratic decision. It will be hard to conduct truly democratic elections in the short time frame but I hope the message from people was clear- only free and democratic elections will be accepted by Ukrainian people.
George Khachidze, Tbilisi, Georgia

As a native Ukrainian and someone who knows the corruption in that country, I am positively surprised that the Court upheld the opposition's complaints. Lord willing, justice will be done.
Iwan Baamann, Lookout Mountain, USA

It is only a small victory over us. Why small? Because it is only the first step in struggle for our democracy and against present authority which has led my country almost to ruin. Glory to the Supreme Court which not looking on pressure has made the verdict which possibly became a turning-point in a present situation. Also I wanted to thank to the European Parliament for support which it rendered all this time. And I hope for the prompt decision of this problem.
Victor Pasternak, Kyiv, Ukraine

Unless the authorities truly protect the election polling stations the final count and all election officers, we may end up with the same result. Nothing will stop those with power from keeping it. This is the true state of affairs currently in Ukraine
David, Kiev

I have a feeling that my country is finally waking up from a 10-year-long nightmare. I never dared hope that so many of my countrymen would stand up and say, enough is enough. With God's help, we will finally become a proud European nation and not a silent herd ruled my home-grown gangsters or ex-spies in Moscow.
Ivan, Kiev, Ukraine

The re-run will require as many, if not more, election observers from abroad. Especially from those neighbouring countries, the Baltic states, Poland and Slovakia, where people have an understanding of the situation in Ukraine and the language skills to be effective observers. Problematically, all those countries celebrate Christmas around the proposed date of the re-run, which will recruitment of election observers difficult. Let's make an unusual Christmas present to our Ukrainian neighbours and to ourselves: election observation in Ukraine.
Joerg Forbrig, Bratislava, Slovakia

An act of political expediency
Alexandru Nemoianu, Jackson, Michigan, USA
The decision of the Ukraine Supreme Court was done out of fear and under the unprecedented pressure of the "free" world. It was an act of political expediency and the aim was against justice, rule of laws and ultimately against Russia. But its consequences will be terrible. What goes round also comes round.
Alexandru Nemoianu, Jackson, Michigan, USA

Russia is weak, the US is strong. You don't have to be a Supreme Court judge to put two and two together.
Yuri, Ottawa, Canada

Recently Mr Kuchma stated in Moscow that Ukrainians had a country but did not have a nation. The world has seen during the last 12 days that Ukrainians have both - a country and a united nation. People of Ukraine want freedom and democracy, and to further integrate into the West. Congratulations, my beloved Ukrainians! I am very proud of you!
Oleksandr, Lafayette, USA

Let the people choose their own destiny
David Hutchinson, Richardson, Tx, USA
Great news for the people of the Ukraine. They have the right to elect their own leaders, in a fair and democratic manner. Putin and Bush and other outsiders need to stay out of Ukrainian affairs and let the people choose their own destiny.
David Hutchinson, Richardson, Tx, USA

This time the election should not merely be observed by international groups - it should be run by them. Otherwise we will just see a repeat of what has happened already.
Jeremy, Regina, Canada

I hope all of the people of Ukraine can become united and live in harmony.
Kenneth Smith, USA

There needs to be a whole new election with a brand new panel of candidates
Artur, Kitchener, Canada
I am glad that election results have been annulled. However, I believe there needs to be a whole new election with a brand new panel of candidates. There is too much bias and too much emotion attached to both Yushchenko and Yanukovych. Neither of them is capable of uniting the country's western and eastern regions. I fear that under Yushchenko, East-Ukrainians will suffer and face a wave of nationalist discrimination.
Artur, Kitchener, Canada

Cheers for the court. Let's hope they are able to guarantee the next polls are clean.
Ricardo Mazurek, São Paulo, Brazil

They should first try to identify the fraudulent votes and do a proper count of the original election. It is likely that more people will vote in the re-run and this could give a different result to the one that would have happened had the first vote been clean.
Ian, Salisbury, UK

Fantastic! This has got to be the fairest way forward for both sides. Now, at last, the people can speak.
Iain Argent, Alicante, Spain

The difficult part is to hold the new election fairly and transparently in such a short timescale
Mark Tillotson, Cambridge
It sounds the best decision - anything else would lead to festering allegations of corruption, vote-rigging. The difficult part is to hold the new election fairly and transparently in such a short timescale. It should never be a matter of debate in a democracy, when substantiated allegations of vote rigging are made, to re-run the election under greater scrutiny.
Mark Tillotson, Cambridge

This decision is witness to an unexpected maturity of Ukrainian democracy and its political system. We can only guess that it left Putin very surprised and puzzled, as his personal talks with Kuchma in Moscow didn't help at all.
Sarunas, Vilnius, Lithuania

Justice has won!
Hans Larsen, Nuuk, Greenland

I'm holding my breath for Ukraine. I knew next to nothing about it until this election. Now I know that it is a country full of courageous people who will take a stand for a free, democratic and open society. You have my admiration and respect - peace and a bright future to you, whoever wins a free and fair election.
Douglas, Spain

Good news for the Ukrainian people and democracy in Ukraine
Mark, Calgary, Canada
The court's ruling is good news for the Ukrainian people and democracy in Ukraine. It will be vital to ensure that objective third parties monitor the polling and tabulation of results to minimise the probability of further manipulation by either Russia or the US. Neither Putin nor George Bush should be allowed to interfere in the free will of the Ukrainian people.
Mark, Calgary, Canada

The Ukrainian masses and judiciary have shown an excellent example of political maturity and wisdom. This also indicates a positive economic future for both Ukraine and Russia.
Drew

The Ukraine Supreme Court has recognised that in a real democracy, the people are sovereign. Once again, people power prevails over electoral frauds! This in many ways resembles my personal experience of people power in the Philippines.
Eliseo Mercado, OMI, Rome, Italy

The chances of democracy prevailing are significantly higher now. This is not, however, time to relax. More work needs to be done - in particular, the number of observers must be increased.
Stanislav Thorovsky, Lviv, Ukraine

The Supreme Court decision may be said to be fair or unfair depending on one's position, but I have to say that I am impressed by the independence of the Supreme Court and the legislature of Ukraine. They apparently are capable of making decisions against the president and the current government. Based on this fact and the fact that there was no violence in these days, I have great confidence in the future of Ukraine.
Atuzai, Nashville, TN, USA

A victory for democracy and the rule of law
Peter Gray, London, UK
This is a victory for democracy and the rule of law. Let us only hope that the second round is held in a free and fair manner. International observers would be able to ensure this. If the second round is held fairly, it should stop the Ukraine from tearing itself apart.
Peter Gray, London, UK

To keep both sides of the international community happy, CIS delegates should witness voting in western Ukraine and EU/OSCE delegates should check out the east. Whatever the result - and the show's not over for at least another three weeks - it will at least be a testament to peaceful civil protest.
Chris K, London, UK

A re-run of the second round as the court has ruled is the right thing to do. Any other scenario is just playing political games with democracy. In order to ensure a free and fair election all democratic countries should send election observers and organise independent exit polls.
Oleh Leszczyszyn, Toronto, Canada

This is a great victory, not for "the West", but for the people in the streets of Kyiv. They are not radicals, they are not nationalists, they are simply decent people who want a decent government and decent lives for their children.
Walter Anastazievsky, Shoreview, MN, USA




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