U.S. Urges Ukraine Not to Certify Votes
CRAWFORD, Texas - The Bush administration urged the Ukrainian government on Tuesday not to certify results of the disputed presidential election, which gave a Kremlin-backed candidate a narrow lead over a Western-leaning opposition candidate with almost all votes counted.
"The United States is deeply concerned by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan told reporters at a briefing in Crawford, Texas, where President Bush is spending Thanksgiving.
The Oct. 31 election shows Viktor Yanukovych - backed by the outgoing government and Russia - beating Viktor Yushchenko, who is supported by the United States. The election has been widely dismissed by observers as flawed. The election is considered an important test of democracy in the former Soviet republic of 48 million.
"We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved," Buchan said.
The United States also expressed hope that the situation can be resolved peacefully.
"The government bears a special responsibly not to use or incite violence and to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion," she said.