A divisive Presidential election between two contenders with two very different views on where the country should be headed, especially in terms of foreign policy. Exit polls show the opposition candidate will win by a comfortable margin. After the votes are in, however, the continuity candidate is declared the winner. Allegations of electoral fraud abound.
Unlike in the U.S., however, the allegations in Ukraine have serious substance. The OSCE is saying the vote was fixed and two Canadian MPs -- Conservative Peter Goldring from Edmonton East and Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj from Etobicoke Centre -- who have been there monitoring the election are alleging "systemic and massive fraud" in favour of the pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanykovych:
"One particular location, when we checked the documentation on it, it appeared that 50 signatures in a row were done in the same hand. Well, those sorts of things indicate, when it happens in multiple locations, it's systemic," said Borys Wrezesnwskyj. [Sic.]There may still be hope however for pro-Europe challenger Viktor Yushchenko:
"This is a poor showing and of great concern, not only to many Ukrainians, but also to many of the democratic countries of the world, too. Everybody is watching this," said Peter Goldring.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators contesting the tally brought the city centre to a halt, pitching tents in the middle of Khreshchatyk, Kiev's tree-lined main thoroughfare.I have high hopes that the truth will win out. Perhaps we'll see a repeat of Georgia's Rose Revolution... Good luck to the demonstrators! I'm wearing Orange today to support them.
Yushchenko addressed the crowd, saying he had no confidence in officials conducting the count.
"Remain where you are," he told the 50,000-strong gathering in Independence Square on Monday. "From all parts of Ukraine, on carts, cars, planes and trains tens of thousands of people are on their way here. Our action is only beginning.
Supporters braved sub-zero temperatures in orange scarves, sweaters and headbands -- the colour of his campaign. Banners with the candidate's portrait hung from buildings and a bridge.
Kudos to The Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon who has doing an awesome job of covering the election for Canadians. Here's his report today and an excellent backgrounder from Saturday's paper. (That's his piece on the aftermath of the Rose Revolution, too.)