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Ukraine's President Inaugurated


The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

Viktor Yushchenko was sworn in as Ukraine’s third president since the country achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Mr. Yushchenko’s inauguration marked the end of a political battle that began with an electoral process characterized by serious violations of democratic norms and a seriously flawed presidential run-off election in November. The Ukrainian Supreme Court invalidated the results and ordered a new vote be held December 26th. In that vote, the Ukrainian people made their voice clearly heard, and -- with 51.99% of the vote to 44.2 percent for his opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych -- elected Mr. Yushchenko as their President.

Through weeks of political uncertainty, tens of thousands of Ukrainians remained in the streets of the capital, Kiev, peacefully demonstrating for a democratic process. The Ukrainian people played a great role by standing for democracy, said Mr. Yushchenko through an interpreter:

"I am particularly happy that I've lived to the time that the Ukrainian president is elected not in Moscow, not in Washington, but here in Ukraine. On the other hand however, the international assistance, the assistance and support from our partners, was very essential for enrooting the democracy in Ukraine."

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher underlined the role that popular pressure for fair democratic elections played in bringing Ukraine’s electoral crisis to a peaceful conclusion:

"It is just a matter of allowing the Ukrainian people to have their rights and to enjoy their rights. That is what happened. This is what happened through a careful process in Ukraine."

Shortly before leaving office, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell attended the inauguration ceremony and earlier in the day met with President-elect Yushchenko:

“We had a good discussion on all of the bilateral issues between our two nations, but we also talked about broader issues of Euro-Atlantic integration, and how Ukraine will be moving to make sure that it becomes a valued member of the Euro-Atlantic community.”

In his inaugural address, Mr. Yushchenko said he is committed to ushering in Western-oriented political and economic reforms.

Secretary Powell told the Ukrainian president that as he moves forward he will "enjoy the full support of the American government and people."

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