November 26th 2004
(updated down the page)

There is no reason for bloodshed in the Ukraine, nor is it likely. Dividing the country, with part rejoining the Russian Federation, is not a good idea. It is constitutionally and geographically and politically very difficult and would be to the detriment of both parts. The Ukrainians will sort out their difficulties. Their justice system will need to rise to the occasion, and much good may come of it. If there has been electoral fraud and interference on the scale widely claimed, the appropriate judicial authority shoud demand a regional or even a total re-run of the election, so that the result is then acceptable to the population. That is all there is to be said. It is important that good relations are maintained between the Ukraine and the Russian Federation, regardless of who becomes head of state or prime minister.

Addendum Nov 26 at 22.07 GMT - It appears this is what is being suggested by the opposition leader, so logic is being applied. The situation is still critical, but there is reason to hope for the proper outcome to be reached peacefully.

UPDATE DEC 3 2004 (Reuters):
Friday December 3, 04:33 PM

Ukraine election ruled invalid

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's Supreme Court has ruled that a disputed presidential election officially won by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was invalid.

Chairman Anatoly Yarema, delivering the court's ruling after five days of deliberations, said a "repeat vote" was required.

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He said this ballot should take place three weeks counting from December 5 -- meaning December 26 -- suggesting it would be a re-run of last month's run-off vote which opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko alleged was rigged by authorities.

Judges backed arguments by Yushchenko's camp, which have brought tens of thousands out on to the streets of the capital Kiev, that the vote had been subject to systematic fraud.

The ruling on Friday, greeted by applause in the courtroom, appeared to run counter to what beleaguered outgoing President Leonid Kuchma had sought in nearly two weeks of bitter wrangling.

Kuchma had pressed for a completely new election, which would have required up to three months to be organised, with him remaining in office. Kuchma had secured the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin for his position in talks on Moscow on Thursday.

Yushchenko's camp, hoping to capitalise on the momentum of mass demonstrations in Kiev, had dug in their heels in favour of a quick repeat of the November 21 run-off.

One month later there is cause for some satisfaction. Logic has prevailed, the right actions have been taken. It looks like Yushchenko has won but there will be some legal challenges of before this is made final. Then will come the hard part, to unite the population behind a new leader of whom too much will be expected by both supporters and opponents. But it is the people themselves who will have to 'deliver', and they can. At the end, it does not matter who wins as long as the election was adequately well organised and fraud limited.