Secession looms as Ukraine crisis deepens

Ukraine’s post-presidential election crisis
has intensified further, with no sign of rapprochement between
the two contenders or an easing of the street blockades. The
country appears set to split at the seams.

On 29 November, Ukraine entered the second week of a
bitter crisis over the country’s disputed
presidential elections.

In the latest developments:

  • Ukraine’s Supreme Court is scheduled to
    consider opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko’s
    appeal on 29 November.
  • The opposition demanded that outgoing President
    Leonid Kuchma fire the current Prime Minister Viktor
    Yanukovich, who is Yushchenko’s contender. The
    opposition gave a deadline of late 29 November.
  • Yushchenko has called called for a new vote on 12
    December and has also urged his supporters to
    continue with their street protests.
  • Meanwhile, Yanukovich’s supporters have
    announced plans to call a referendum on 5 December on
    creating a separate republic in the eastern half
    of Ukraine.
  • “I’m warning you against any radical
    measures,” Yanukovich told his supporters.
    “Once the first drop of blood is spilled, we will
    not be able to stop it.”
  • In symbolic votes, the country’s parliament has
    declared the 21 November presidential election invalid
    and has passed a vote of no-confidence in Ukraine’s
    Central Elections Commission.

Asked to comment on the situation, Polish President
Aleksandr Kwasniewski, who has been helping to mediate in
the crisis, said that the country splitting up was a
“realistic threat”. “Even if it ends with
Yushchenko becoming president – which is most likely,
after repeated procedures and so on – it is difficult to
believe that east Ukraine will fall in love with
him,” said Kwasniewski.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has met
with all sides in the crisis, said that another election
“is a possibility that has been on the table,
yes”.

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