Washington, D.C., October 26, 2004 — Taras Kuzio, a professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, joined several political analysts today in expressing concerns about the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine and what it means for Ukraine's future. "The authorities in Ukraine never intended — and I stress, never intended — to hold a free and fair election," he declared. If they did, he added, opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko would win in the first round.
Kuzio participated in a panel discussion at the Voice of America (VOA) on "Defining Ukraine's Future: the 2004 Presidential Vote." Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday is being contested by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who is supported by current President Leonid Kuchma, and opposition leader and former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko. The panelists said both candidates had dramatically different plans for the country.
"We have seen backsliding in Ukraine's strategic goal of integration into NATO and the European Union," said panelist Orest Deychakiwsky, staff advisor at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission). He contended that a Yushchenko victory would reverse this trend. Deychakiwsky also described the upcoming election as "a battle between democracy and increasing authoritarianism."
Nadia Diuk, Program Director for Central Europe and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy, said that harassment of the few independent media outlets still available in Ukraine had had a negative impact on outside sources of information such as VOA, Radio Liberty, BBC, and Deutsche Welle, by limiting their ability to rebroadcast within the country.
VOA's Ukrainian Service broadcasts two hours of radio every day, as well as the weekly television program Window on America and a daily, five-minute television news program that launched on October 18, 2004. Programs can also be accessed on the Internet at www.VOANews.com/Ukrainian.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in Ukrainian and 43 other languages.
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