Ukraine’s supreme court declares the 2004 presidential election result invalid, citing systemic and massive” violations, and orders a new runoff vote to be conducted by Dec. 26. It says the government of President Leonid Kuchma ‘illegally meddled in the election process’ during the original Nov. 21 ballot. Chief Justice Anatoly Yarema:
The conclusion of the court is that the rules of the electoral law were broken and the exact result of the voters’ will across the territory of Ukraine cannot be ascertained.
A majority of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, supports a motion to declare the election result placing Yanukovych ahead of Yushchenko invalid. The parliamentary vote is not binding and may not influence the outcome of Yushchenko’s upcoming challenge in the Supreme Court. Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn ahead of the vote:
The logical issue to be raised is to declare the election politically invalid because the true will of the people is now impossible to establish.
Yushchenko demands a new election and says the only topic he will discuss in planned face-to-face talks with Yanukovych is a fresh poll. To a gathering of supporters:
We will only hold talks on staging a new vote.
Yushchenko calls for general strikes shutting down factories, schools and transportation to protest the Central Election Commission’s decision to call the 2004 Ukraine presidential election in favor of Yanukovych. Yushchenko addresses supporters in Maidan (Independence) Square rallying under orange banners, the color of his campaign:
[This decision] puts Ukraine on the verge of civil conflict … With this decision, they want to put us on our knees
Putin congratulates Yanukovych on his apparent victory in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election despite the lack of an official result, after the Central Election Commission’s preliminary announcement that with 99% of ballots counted, Yanukovych is ahead of Yushchenko 49%-47%. With the pro-Russian candidate victorious:
We will be able to do a great deal to strengthen the European and international security and build a united and prospering Europe. I value your determination to work together and express deep satisfaction with the constructive contacts that have been established between us. Continuing our active dialogue will definitely contribute to the expansion of bilateral cooperation inthe name of prosperity between the two brotherly nations