The ex-Soviet state’s Western leaning "Orange" opposition, allied to Yushchenko, had claimed victory in Sunday’s election on the basis of exit polls and early returns. However the Regions Party of pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, surged past the ‘BYuT’ bloc of ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko with more than three quarters of the vote counted.

"I am concerned by the delayed vote count in eastern and southern Ukraine," a somber Yushchenko said in a televised address to the nation. "I order law enforcement bodies to start an immediate investigation into the causes and circumstances of delayed vote count reports from polling stations."

With most votes counted, the Regions Party had almost 33 percent, boosted by a further 5 percent for its Communist allies. The Tymoshenko bloc stood at nearly 32 percent, with a further roughly 15 percent for Our Ukraine. Leading Tymoshenko supporters had already accused the prime minister’s allies of cheating.

Election fraud led to widespread protests in 2004 which overwhelmed Kiev for weeks in the aftermath of a presidential election, initially won by Yanukovich. The supreme court annulled the vote and ordered a new one which was won by Yushchenko.


Despite the setback, Yulia Tymoshenko’s pro-Western block was expected to be able to form a coalition government with the Our Ukraine party of President Viktor Yuschenko. Although Timoshenko was dismissed as prime minister by Yushchnko in 2005 for alleged incompetence, she now says she can do a really good job.

"I think this time we will be able to show a high-class in the formation of democratic forces in parliament, which means that after we have heard the results from the Central Election Commission the coalition will be completed," she said.

Under her leadership the country is expected to move forward on an ambitious path towards the European Union and NATO. 

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich says he still wants to form the next govrnment. Via EuroNews TelevisionHowever current Prime Minister Yanukovich, who seeks closer ties with Moscow, warned his rivals not to celebrate yet. He said because his party received most votes, it had the right to form the next government. "We are the winners of the election. I am convinced of our victory. Now we have the right to form a coalition."
However analysts said he was unlikely to get enough parliamentarians behind him. Sunday’s ballot was the third national vote in as many years. 


International election observers have said the elections were open and competitive, but there were some problems with voter lists. Despite these shortcomings, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the voting in Ukraine was conducted mostly in line with international democratic standards.

The voting was closely watched by neighboring Russia, which sees Ukraine as a crucial buffer against invading armies and an economic hub, as most of its gas and oil pipelines to Europe run through the country. If pro-democracy forces win, this vital part of the old Soviet empire could join the West, the European Union, and perhaps even NATO.

That’s an outcome Russian President Vladimir Putin will not abide, said Ariel Cohen of the conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank. "Russia will fight for Ukraine even more than it fought for the Baltic States or even Eastern Europe to retain its dominant position," he told the US-basd Christian Broadcasting Network.

Although the 2004 Orange Revolution struck a blow against Russian domination, Christians, who played a major role in the protests, are disillusioned. "Christians learned from the bitter experience of the Orange Revolution and today are afraid to become embroiled in political conflicts," said Mikhail Cherenkov, who represents the Association for Spiritual Renewal in Ukraine. 


However he and others have tried to encourage formerly persecuted Christians and other believers to pray for Ukraine, at a time of more freedom but political and social tensions in this post-Soviet nation. Politicians, including Tymoshenko, claim they recognize the need for prayer.

On Friday, September 28, she held a ‘Prayer for Ukraine’ rally; in Kiev, asking forgiveness for mistakes made by politicians. "Today in the face of the Lord I would like to repent [for what has been done wrong by] authorities and for all [wrongdoings] of politicians…For the blood that was spilled [and] for all consequences that made people suffer," she said.

"And", she added, "I think that if today politicians can acknowledge their sins and their guilt and ask forgiveness, then Ukraine is able to rise up spiritually indeed." But with more political infighting expected ahead, there was no sign yet of reconciliation.


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