everybody's doing it now that bush started it

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    Opposition was to be smeared with terror attack, says official
    By Askold Krushelnycky in Kiev
    06 December 2004


    Ukraine's embattled government is ready to stage faked terrorist attacks to destabilise the country and discredit the opposition ahead of a rerun of the presidential vote, a senior government source has told The Independent.

    The official, who works for the government of the Moscow-backed candidate and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, said: "One of the plans is to blow up a pipeline and blame it on opposition supporters. Ukraine is the key transit country for Russian gas supplies to the West."

    Mr Yanukovych's backers fear the prospect of their candidate losing to Viktor Yushchenko and are ready to plunge the country into economic chaos, the source revealed. "They are planning to use criminals - plain bandits - that they have a hold over." The source said that a senior member of the government had been tasked with overseeing terrorist acts.

    A fortnight of peaceful demonstrations by supporters of Mr Yushchenko have brought the capital, Kiev, and other cities to a standstill. They accused the government of massive electoral fraud in a presidential election on 21 November. The opposition claims were backed up by Western governments and election monitors who reported that intimidation, bribery and falsification were used to hand victory to Mr Yanukovych.

    Ukraine's supreme court accepted opposition claims and last Friday cancelled the result of the election, ordering a fresh ballot for 26 December.

    Supporters of Mr Yanukovych and the current President Leonid Kuchma will also seek to play on fears that inflation will wipe out people's savings as it did after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

    There has already been a run on banks and black market money changers are returning to the streets with far higher dollar and euro exchange rates.

    The government has already suggested that it will not be able to pay pensions and government salaries in December, although the opposition claims there are adequate reserves to pay everything.

    Last week, the opposition passed a motion in parliament firing Mr Yanukovych and his government. But his political mentor, Mr Kuchma - himself facing accusations of rampant corruption and involvement in murder - has refused to approve the dismissal or change the composition of the election commission blamed for supervising the electoral fraud.

    Russia has openly backed Mr Yanukovych, and President Vladimir Putin visited Ukraine twice to rally the country's Russian ethnic population to vote for the Prime Minister.

    The government source told The Independent that Mr Putin said, at a meeting with Mr Kuchma in Moscow last Thursday, that Russia will back the Ukrainian government whatever measures it takes, including force, in order to stop Mr Yushchenko winning.

    Many sections of the Ukrainian armed forces and police have either said they will not take action against Ukrainian demonstrators or will defend the opposition if necessary.

    The opposition yesterdaycompiled lists of supporters, seeking to recruit as many as possible to act as election monitors and campaign workers in the 26 December vote. Mr Yushchenko has called on the international community to send as many observers as possible to the elections.

    There has been speculation that the opposition is facing a rift after a spat in parliament this weekend between Mr Yushchenko's coalition and the Socialist leader Aleksander Moroz, an ally of the opposition.
 
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