“We won’t leave until we’ve won” – the defiant message from tens of thousands of Ukrainians protesting against the outcome of a presidential election they say was rigged. For these people, there is no doubt that opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko is the real winner, despite the official victory of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. Yushenko has asked supporters to march on parliament as it prepares to open an emergency session to discuss the crisis.
According to the parliament’s speaker, deputies are unlikely to invalidate the official result. However, several municipal assemblies, including Kiev itself, have refused to recognise Yanukovich’s victory.
It is the second day of mass demonstrations. The crowd which crammed into Independence Square in the capital Kiev thinned out overnight as temperatures plunged, but diehard Yushchenko supporters stayed, anxious not to cede any territory to security forces who are on alert. The outgoing prime minister was given as the winner with a lead of around 3 percent, with more than 99 percent of votes counted.
Yushchenko says he lost more than three million votes to fraud, mainly through multiple voting using absentee ballots. Police are ready to intervene at the slightest sign of any disturbance.