Washington, D.C., Nov. 23, 2004 - Two Ukrainian diplomats told the Voice of America (VOA) today they signed a declaration protesting the handling of their country's Nov. 21 presidential election.
Saying that he and his colleagues were speaking "not as diplomats but as Ukrainian citizens," Yuri Parahomenko, the second secretary of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., said, "We are joining these voices that are protesting against the infringements of civil rights of the people to elect the president democratically. We are requesting that the results of the elections should reflect the genuine will of the Ukrainian people as the ultimate source of power in Ukraine." Valery Hrebeniuk, the Ukrainian Consul General in San Francisco, told VOA: "Each diplomat must determine which choice he or she supports: the European democracy or a step back to the Soviet era."
Although a winner in Sunday's run-off election between opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko and the government candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich has not been officially announced, Ukraine's electoral commission contends that Mr. Yanukovich holds a lead, with almost all ballots counted. Mr. Yushchenko, however, claims that he has won, and has accused authorities of rigging the election in the Prime Minister's favor.
VOA's Ukrainian programming has shifted to focus on the political situation in the country. Reports come regularly from Kiev and other major cities. TV 5, the only independent network in Ukraine, has participated in two live TV Q&A sessions with VOA to bring Ukrainians news of reactions from the U.S., and more are planned. Prior to the first round of voting, VOA hosted a panel discussion in Washington on this topic.
VOA Ukrainian Service airs two hours of radio programming through affiliates and via shortwave, and a weekly half-hour TV magazine program along with weekday TV news feeds. More VOA coverage of Ukraine's political situation can be found at www.VOANews.com/Ukrainian and www.VOANews.com.
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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