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European Envoys to Mediate Ukraine Electoral Deadlock

  • Lisa McAdams

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana and Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski have arrived in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Friday to try and help start a process of international mediation to end Ukraine's electoral standoff.

Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has said that the only way to end the dispute over the presidential election is for both sides - the opposition and pro-Yanukovych forces - to sit down and start talking. He's never made clear whether he himself would be a party to such talks and his potential role is still not known.

But Maria Yonova, the head of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko's international department, tells VOA Friday that the opposition has received a call from President Kuchma in the past 24 hours. But she says there was no "official offer of talks."

Ms. Yonova declined to provide any further specifics, saying simply, "give it time."

Opposition leader Yushchenko has indicated a willingness to negotiate. But other members within his team have said there can only be negotiations about the terms of a transfer of power and the declaration of Mr. Yushchenko as Ukraine's next president.

A possible break on the electoral front came late Thursday. Ukraine's Supreme Court announced that it would cease to officially publish the election results, in which Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner, until the opposition's claims of widespread vote fraud could be examined.

The United States and Europe say Ukraine risks isolating itself from the democratic community of western nations if it fails to adequately address the opposition's claims.

There are also fears that if the dispute playing out on Ukraine's streets this week is not addressed and soon, Ukraine could divide into two halves, between the pro-Russia east, which favors Mr. Yanukovych, and the pro-reform west, which supports Mr. Yushchenko.

That split is more widely evident in the streets of the capital Friday as the demonstrations grow to include ever larger numbers of pro-government supporters. They had been mostly absent from the scene in the first days of the protests.

But their presence now, in many cases directly among opposition supporters, is leading to some tense exchanges and a more volatile feel to the situation.