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Ukrainian-Americans Watch Unfolding Drama


One and a half million Ukrainian-Americans are closely watching events unfolding in Ukraine, where the country's supreme court is hearing an appeal over this month's disputed election. Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko says the November 21 runoff was rigged in favor of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. Mike O'Sullivan has reaction from Los Angeles, one of the U.S. cities where Mr. Yushchenko's U.S. supporters have staged demonstrations.

They were nothing like the massive protests in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, where hundreds of thousands took to the streets to support the opposition, and tens of thousands turned out on behalf of the sitting prime minister.

But several hundred people took to the streets of Seattle, as did hundreds in Los Angeles, to support the Ukrainian opposition. Similar protests took place in Chicago and other U.S. cities.

Eugene Lemcio, president of the Ukrainian American Club of Washington State, wants the crisis resolved, if necessary by holding another election.

"We don't have any specific agenda here, except for fairness and for justice to be demonstrated. It's up to the Ukrainians to develop the specific strategy for making that happen," he says.

Ukrainian-American Oleh Saciuk, an administrative law judge, took part in the Los Angeles demonstration. He has spent many sleepless nights monitoring events in Ukraine over the Internet, and says others in his Ukrainian Orthodox parish are doing the same.

"There are many newly arrived immigrants from Ukraine who are very close to what's happening there because they came to the United States within the very last few years," Oleh Saciuk says. "But we all have one thing in common: we would like to see democracy in Ukraine, and the present government doesn't represent that."

Figures released by the Ukrainian consulate in San Francisco, where some West Coast Ukrainians voted in the presidential election, show overwhelming support for the opposition. In San Francisco, 2,000 Ukrainians voted for Mr. Yushchenko. Twenty-three voted for Mr. Yanukovich.

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