There have been extraordinary scenes in Kiev as Ukraine’s pro-Western opposition leader Viktor Yushchencho and his supporters celebrated a breakthrough in their campaign. Parliament has approved a series of laws and constitutional changes ahead of this month’s re-run of a rigged presidential election. And Yushencho believes that opens the way for him to win. He said opposition activists would remove a blockade of the main government building in the capital, with immediate effect.
And he urged tens of thousands of people who have braved freezing temperatures day after day to go home to work for victory. Yushchenko has what he wanted – a re-run of last month’s flawed second round run-off vote in which his opponent, pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanokovich, was declared the winner.
But he had to bow to demands from outgoing president Leonid Kuchma in order to secure parliamentary backing for fairer election laws next time round. Results showed nearly all groups in parliament had backed the new measures. Under the compromises, the man who replaces Kuchma will have fewer powers, parliament and the regions will be stronger and control over the electoral process will be tighter. Reducing the powers of his successor was a key demand of Kuchma who signed the bill into law immediately.