Ukraine's outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, has fired three government officials, including one who reportedly backs opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

President Kuchma made the staff changes Friday.

Earlier this week, London's Financial Times newspaper quoted one of those dismissed, presidential aide Vasil Baziv, as saying state officials called on Mr. Kuchma to use force to quell mass opposition demonstrations in Kiev.

The aide also is reported to have said that nearly all of the country's civil servants believe that Mr. Yushchenko is already the new president of Ukraine.

Mr. Yushchenko is locked in a tight presidential race with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. The two will face-off in a court-ordered re-vote on December 26. The new vote is to replace November's flawed balloting.

President Kuchma also fired Agrarian Policy Minister Viktor Slauta and Kharkiv regional administration head Yevhen Kushnaryov.