TWO RIVAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES START A NEW ROUND OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN UKRAINE

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KIEV, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Two rival presidential candidates - Victor Yanukovich and Victor Yuschenko - start a new round of the election campaign in Ukraine.

The new round was set for December 26 by the decision of the Ukrainian Central Election Committee in accordance with the decree issued by the Ukrainian Supreme Court. 11 members of the committee voted "yes," and one member abstained from voting.

According to the decision, the names of Victor Yuschenko and Victor Yanukovich were put on the ballot as candidates who gained the highest number of votes during the first round of elections on October 31.

Both candidates are certain of their victory.

"Although the Supreme Court adopted the decision under great pressure, I will participate in the elections and intend to win," Mr. Yanukovich announced.

Leader of the Ukrainian opposition Victor Yuschenko appealed to his supporters on Saturday to consolidate their efforts before the repeat vote.

Mr. Yuschenko confirmed the fact that the opposition was ready to conduct the political reform in the country only after the new election campaign was over.

He appealed again to incumbent Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to force Yanukovich's Cabinet to resign immediately.

However, the Premiere's press secretary announced that Mr. Yanukovich had no intention to resign on demand of the opposition and the Supreme Rada (Ukrainian Parliament). "Until the presidential decree asking for my resignation is signed, Mr.Yanukovich will remain at his post," Mrs. Herman said.

Many experts in Ukraine doubt that the decision of the Supreme Court to conduct the repeat vote will somewhat release the tensions in the society.

Ukrainian Justice Minister Alexander Lavrinovich stated that the decision of the Supreme Court "fully meets the provisions of the current legislation." At the same time, though, he pointed out that the decision might be questioned because it was adopted on the background of imperfect legislation. However, the discussion of the decision can only be theoretical "because the court never violated the norms of the existing legislation."

Mr. Yanukovich's representative, deputy Stepan Gavrish called the decision "purely political." "This political decision is a way to lead the country out of the political crisis, although I am not sure whether it will be effective," Mr. Gavrish stated. He does not discard the possibility of "another political clash."

Novosti-Ukraine news agency reports that voluntary Cossack brigades are being formed in the Lugansk region of Ukraine, following the decision of the Council of Cossack Atamans.

"Recent events in Kiev show that a small group of irresponsible politicians from the defeated Yuschenko camp undermined the foundation of the Ukrainian statehood by its anti-Constitutional activities," the statement issued by the Council of Cossack Atamans of the Lugansk region says.

"In case if the illegitimate candidate comes to power with the help of the "orange" crowd, we retain the right to use adequate measures with support of our Russian brothers," the statement emphasizes.

On Saturday, the All-Ukrainian Congress of the Unions of all levels in Kharkov appealed to Mr. Yuschenko and Mr. Yanukovich to abstain from the elections in order to preserve peace and stability in the country. The participants unanimously supported the appeal.

The repeat vote "will be considered illegitimate if either of the candidates wins," the document stresses.

Delegates of the Congress appealed to Mr. Yuschenko to take his name from the ballot and welcomed Mr. Yanukovich's statement where he suggested that both candidates should abstain from the campaign.

According to head of the Kharkov region's administration Yevgeny Kushnarev, "the repeat vote might put the country on the brink of collapse again." "The political crisis is quickly turning into the socio-economic one," Mr. Kushnarev said. He thinks that "the only peaceful solution" might be to conduct the political reform and, consequently, new presidential elections. Assigning less responsibility to the president, he believes, will lower the interest in this state institute.

However, during the emergency meeting of the Supreme Rada on Saturday, the deputies failed to agree on changes in the Constitution and electoral legislation. The suggested amendments provide for the transfer of the majority of responsibilities from the president to the Cabinet and the appointment of the Prime Minister by the Parliament, which means that Ukraine becomes a parliamentarian-presidential republic.

The Rada Speaker scheduled the next session for December 14.

Meanwhile, the opposition maintains the blockade of the government offices - a complex of buildings where the Ukrainian President's administration and the Cabinet are located.

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