Church backs charges of fraud in Ukrainian election - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
November 25, 2004

Church backs charges of fraud in Ukrainian election

-25/11/04

Leaders of the Catholic Church in Ukraine have supported charges by the country's opposition that Sunday's election victory of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych is invalid because the process was fraudulent.

Reformist candidate Viktor Yushchenko and his allies have now called for an ìall-Ukrainian political strikeî after election officials declared the Kremlin-backed candidate the winner of a bitterly disputed run-off denounced by Western observers as fraudulent.

The oppositionís threat to shut down factories, schools and transportation risked provoking a crackdown by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, who accused the opposition of trying to carry out ìa coup díetatî.

However church leaders urged the government to avoid violence as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets of Western Ukraine to protest election results that declared pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner.

"When people take to the streets to defend their constitutional rights in a peaceful way, they are not a dark mass 'off the street.' These are brave people, self-sacrificing and responsible, who should be honoured and whose voice should be heard, for 'the voice of the people is the voice of God,'", said the synod of Ukrainian Catholic bishops in a statement released at a press conference.

Bishop Paul Chomnycky, leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the UK added yesterday that his community was in full support of the opposition protests over election fraud in the Ukraine.

He said: "Throughout the election we did not become involved in party politics but advised people to take part in the democratic process. But the election has clearly not been conducted fairly."

The Eastern-rite church has some 3300 parishes, mostly in Western Ukraine, which largely voted for the pro-western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

"So we turn to those in positions of power, entrusted with power by this same people, asking them not to give in to temptation during the resolution of this very difficult situation, not to use their standing, the means of force and law-enforcement structures for their own narrow interests against their own people," the bishops said.

They said that before the election, the church had urged citizens to vote for a "worthy candidate ... according to the voice of conscience."

The bishops said they were asking all Ukrainians to pray for the country at "this difficult and responsible moment."

Pope John Paul II said at his weekly general audience, that he was praying for Ukrainians.

The pope assured a group of Ukrainians present "and all the Ukrainian people that in these days I pray particularly for your beloved country."

A few dozen Ukrainians waving blue and yellow flags cheered enthusiastically at the pope's comments. On some of the flags hung a strip of orange cloth. Orange is the colour associated with supporters of the opposition leader. Some Ukrainians held a banner reading, "Yes, Yushchenko."

Church backs charges of fraud in Ukrainian election

-25/11/04

Leaders of the Catholic Church in Ukraine have supported charges by the country's opposition that Sunday's election victory of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych is invalid because the process was fraudulent.

Reformist candidate Viktor Yushchenko and his allies have now called for an ìall-Ukrainian political strikeî after election officials declared the Kremlin-backed candidate the winner of a bitterly disputed run-off denounced by Western observers as fraudulent.

The oppositionís threat to shut down factories, schools and transportation risked provoking a crackdown by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, who accused the opposition of trying to carry out ìa coup díetatî.

However church leaders urged the government to avoid violence as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets of Western Ukraine to protest election results that declared pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner.

"When people take to the streets to defend their constitutional rights in a peaceful way, they are not a dark mass 'off the street.' These are brave people, self-sacrificing and responsible, who should be honoured and whose voice should be heard, for 'the voice of the people is the voice of God,'", said the synod of Ukrainian Catholic bishops in a statement released at a press conference.

Bishop Paul Chomnycky, leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the UK added yesterday that his community was in full support of the opposition protests over election fraud in the Ukraine.

He said: "Throughout the election we did not become involved in party politics but advised people to take part in the democratic process. But the election has clearly not been conducted fairly."

The Eastern-rite church has some 3300 parishes, mostly in Western Ukraine, which largely voted for the pro-western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

"So we turn to those in positions of power, entrusted with power by this same people, asking them not to give in to temptation during the resolution of this very difficult situation, not to use their standing, the means of force and law-enforcement structures for their own narrow interests against their own people," the bishops said.

They said that before the election, the church had urged citizens to vote for a "worthy candidate ... according to the voice of conscience."

The bishops said they were asking all Ukrainians to pray for the country at "this difficult and responsible moment."

Pope John Paul II said at his weekly general audience, that he was praying for Ukrainians.

The pope assured a group of Ukrainians present "and all the Ukrainian people that in these days I pray particularly for your beloved country."

A few dozen Ukrainians waving blue and yellow flags cheered enthusiastically at the pope's comments. On some of the flags hung a strip of orange cloth. Orange is the colour associated with supporters of the opposition leader. Some Ukrainians held a banner reading, "Yes, Yushchenko."

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.