A former revolution leader has been addressing the crowds gathered in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, where the so-called “Orange Revolution” is underway. Former Polish president Lech Walesa who fought the communists as head of the Solidarity Union in the 1980s stood by opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. They stood before tens of thousands of Ukrainians gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square for fifth day running to demonstrate against Sunday’s presidential election.
Official results declared victory for Moscow’s candidate Viktor Yanukovich – he was even congratulated earlier today by Russian president Vladimir Putin. But Western observers say the elections were fraught with irregularities – the vote has been denounced by the international community including the European Union and the United States. In a strongly worded statement issued last night, the Netherlands which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said Ukrainian authorities must remedy irregularities reported by observers. Washington too is keeping a close eye on events in Ukraine… It’s a delicate situation for the US which has received considerable support from Ukrainian troops in Iraq, but Secretary of State Colin Powell nevertheless rejected the results and warned of consequences. The situation for now remains calm but the news of Russian commando troops gathering in Kiev is fuelling fears of a spill over of violence. While urging calm, Yushchenko has pledged to press on with mass protests and has called on a nationwide strike. But it’s not certain his call will be headed in the east of the country which mainly backs Russia’s candidate.