Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ukraine Opposition Proposes Force to Oversee Planned National Strike      

Opposition political leader Viktor Yushchenko has announced the creation of a committee to, as he puts it, ensure the national salvation of Ukraine, especially as regards the democratic rights of its citizens.

Details of the committee came during an evening rally on Kiev's Central Independence Square where his supporters pressed for their candidate to be declared the winner of the recent presidential election.

The head of Mr. Yushchenko's election campaign, Alexander Zinchenko, says the opposition leader decided to create the committee because, in his view, neither outgoing President Leonid Kuchma nor Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych can rightfully claim to protect the rights of Ukraine's people.

The deputy says they lost that ability when they engaged in what the opposition claims was widespread fraud during Sunday's presidential election.

The opposition's claims have been upheld by Europe and the United States, which say they do not recognize the Ukrainian Central Electoral Commission's results, which gave the win to Mr. Yanukovych, Mr. Kuchma's hand-picked successor.

Opposition leader, Yulia Timoshenko, who will play a key role in the new committee, says it will save and uphold the constitutional rights of Ukraine's citizens.

Ms. Timoshenko says it will include arrangements to set up a civil defense force, or so-called Ukrainian guard. She says it will also oversee Mr. Yushchenko's call for a national strike.

Ms. Timoshenko says all principle highways and government buildings in Ukraine will be subject to the strike.

Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa stood beside Ms. Timoshenko on the stage. He told the crowd, estimated at about one million, that history was again being made.

Mr. Walesa said he came to Ukraine to share his success and failures in leading his own opposition struggle in the hope it would prove fortuitous for Ukraine.

Mr. Walesa said he had spoken to numerous Ukrainian government officials before the rally, whom he said promised not to use force in dealing with the stand-off in the streets. He added that in his time he did not have such a promise.

All the same, he said the Ukrainian people need to be ready for provocation as the national strike takes hold.

Following the rally, throngs of people dispersed from the square where they have camped out for days to begin the so-called move to government buildings.