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Yushchenko Supporters Say Ukraine Election May Help Spread Democracy to Neighbors


Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych accused the United States Monday of interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs. The prime minister, whose victory in a run-off presidential election was annulled by the country's Supreme Court because of allegations of fraud, charged that America has bankrolled the campaign of the opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. Another election between the two men is scheduled for December 26th.

Some of Mr. Yushchenko's followers remain on the streets of Kiev. And some are talking about a regional democratic movement sparked by the current events in Ukraine.

The crowds have all gone home. And the stage from which opposition candidate Victor Yushchenko made his daily speeches to the adoring masses stands silent. An eerie calm has descended on Kiev's Independence Square. Other than the occasional orange banner, the color of the Yushchenko campaign, little is left to mark the history that was made here. Rumor has it the stage remains up for an anticipated "President" Yushchenko's inauguration.

At the edge of the square the massive tent city stretching down the city's main thoroughfare street, Khreshchatyk, is still standing.

Even after the Supreme Court ordered another run-off election, and the parliament passed election reforms, the tent city's inhabitants are unrelenting, determined to see a Yushchenko victory through to the end.

"Maybe the feeling of the great moment, it will come later. When we recognize what happened. And now we are just here and fighting for our freedom and the freedom of our children. And the right to vote," said Maxim Krukovsky, who owns a Kiev software programming company.

Among the protestors determined to stay is Vechslav Seevchic, an ecologist from the neighboring country of Belarus. He has shared this old army tent with five other people since November 18th. He said he came to Kiev because he would like to see a democratic revolution in Belarus. "We personally believe that if Yanukovych becomes the president of Ukraine, then things in Belarus will not get any better," he said.

Vechslav is not alone. Protestors have come from other former Soviet republics hoping to spark a regional democratic movement. Erachi is from Georgia, where the people took to the street to overturn a fraudulent election just over a year ago.

"My personal opinion, if that's what you're interested in, let's take Ukraine as an example... Ukraine for many years did not have a leader, whom the people would follow," he said. "If in Belarus and Kazakhstan there comes a leader, whom the people will follow, then without a doubt the same kind of thing will happen there. Because the people are tired of all the lawlessness."

But most of the protestors who remain are young Ukrainians in their twenties. And as news reporters from all over the world move through the camp, they often stand and lock arms in solidarity for their cameras. You can see it in the twinkle in their eyes and the warm, gleaming smiles on their faces. They know this is probably the defining moment of their generation, and, they hope, a change of course for their history.

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