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Bush Administration Urges Ukraine Not to Certify Disputed Presidential Election

The Bush administration is urging the Ukrainian government not to certify the results of Sunday's disputed presidential election, saying concerns about fraud need to be resolved. The comments came as thousands of opposition supporters in Ukraine continue to protest the outcome of the election.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan told reporters the Bush administration is calling on Ukraine to conduct a review of the election and not to certify the results until investigations of fraud are resolved.

Ms. Buchan says the United States is deeply concerned by what she called extensive and credible indications of fraud in the Ukrainian presidential election.

The U.S. State Department says officials are questioning preliminary results showing pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich winning the election over opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

A spokesman says there is a widespread perception in Ukraine that the elections were not fair and are not a reflection of the will of the people.

The election has sparked massive protests in Kiev, where hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have rallied in cold weather and snow in support of the opposition leader.

Kyrylo Loukerenko is a television journalist in Ukraine who spoke by telephone to VOA News Now.

"As far as I understand it, the action of the opposition and other actions in other cities and towns, they are peaceful," said Mr. Loukerenko. "As far as I understand there were no reports of violence."

Meanwhile, at least 150 Ukrainian diplomats have called on their government to recognize opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko as the country's president.

A diplomat (Second Secretary for Legal Affairs) at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, Yuri Parkhomenko, told VOA he and other diplomats signed a statement protesting what he called infringements of civil rights of people in Ukraine who were trying to elect their president democratically.

"What I wish to underline is that every diplomat and every person has his or her own right to express [their] own views and actually having this right we are free to express our position morally when it is so crucial at this particular time when the voices should be united in support of democracy in Ukraine," he said.

U.S. and European observers have reported extensive fraud in the Ukrainian election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called such criticism inadmissible because the final results have not yet been announced.