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UPDATE ~ Ukraine leaders warn of "civil war"; Opposition challenging election results in Supreme Court Thursday
UPDATE ~ Ukraine leaders warn of "civil war"; Opposition challenging election results in Supreme Court Thursday

[JURIST] Following up stories reported earlier today in JURIST's Paper Chase, government and opposition leaders in the Ukraine spoke openly late Wednesday of the possibility of civil strife as the country's electoral crisis deepened. Outgoing Ukrainian president Leonid Kushma warned civil war "could well become a reality at the present time" if opposition protests continue, while Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko told a rally of thousands of pro-Opposition protestors in Kyiv that Ukraine was on the brink of a "civil conflict." Opposition leaders have said that on Thursday in the country's Supreme Court (official site in Ukrainian) they will challenge the official election results certified Wednesday by Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission (official site in Ukrainian) declaring Russian-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner of Sunday's presidential run-off election. The official count favoring Yanukovych is posted in English here. Yanukovych's campaign website in Ukrainian is here. Yushchenko's campaign website is here in Ukrainian, with a version in English here. Yushchenko's personal site in English is here.

The Yushchenko campaign has posted the full text of Yushchenko's Wednesday speech to supporters:

Dear friends!

I would like to explain to you our reason for being here. The CEC committed yet another crime a few hours ago. I know that this information will be tough on some of you or, perhaps, on everybody, but I would like to say that we have to make opposite conclusions. Nine members of the CEC have adopted the final decision on the election results in accordance with which Yanukovych had edged me by some 3%. They wanted to put us on our knees with this decision. They wanted to say that we were swine; they wanted to say in spite of all that their manipulations could overcome the voice of the people, their language. This is why I am here with my colleagues in these difficult minutes and I would like to make an announcement.

My friends!

I beg you not to shed a single tear on hearing this news.

Dear friends!

The state authorities did what we expected of them. It is wriggling like a grass-snake on a pitchfork. It will not pause before any illegal activities to carry out its grand scheme, to complete the coup d'état. I would like to say firmly: this news, this information has led me onto another thought. I would like to swear to you today that my fight against this regime would now only become stronger and more consistent.

Dear friends!

The coordinating council of political forces that had supported my candidacy for the presidency of Ukraine has just finished its session. We have made the following decision:

1. To create the National Committee on Defending the Constitution. It is taking on the responsibility of defending democracy in Ukraine.

2. The CEC’s illegal decision has brought Ukraine to the threshold of a civil conflict.

3. Attempts to make the will of millions of people null and void are forcing the people to look for the truth in an open struggle.

4. The government has chosen the most primitive way – the way of conflict escalation. It has chosen to go back on the negotiations we were talking about an hour ago. It has chosen to reject the possibility of political talks and the search for a joint solution.

5. [The only way to a compromise that can help us resolve this conflict is the way of public protest]. This is why the National Committee on Defending the Constitution is announcing an all-Ukraine political strike. This is our answer to the political outrage of the Kuchma-Yanukovych regime.

BBC News has more.