Ukrainian elections: Eastern-Southern regions may demand autonomy

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, made up of top police and military officials, asked politicians to speed up talks to resolve the presidential election stalemate before it turns "into an &to=http:// ' target=_blank>economic crisis." The council also asked regional governments to cancel "illegal decisions" to recognize either Viktor Yushchenko or Viktor Yanukovych as president, council head Volodymyr Radchenko said in 5 Kanal and Kiev television broadcasts.

Yushchenko declared himself president last week after U.S., &to=http:// ' target=_blank>European Union and international observers questioned the result of the Nov. 21 vote in which Prime Minister Yanukovych finished first.

Millions of Yushchenko supporters have taken to the streets after the government announced the result, while hundreds of thousands have demonstrated for Yanukovych in eastern Ukraine, reports Bloomberg.

According to the Voice of America, Viktor Yushchenko, is appealing to his supporters to continue their week-old street protests over disputed presidential elections. Meanwhile, the Russian backed candidate, who was declared the winner of last Sunday's election, is meeting with leaders of eastern and southern regions who are warning they may pursue autonomy.

Flanked by his wife and three daughters, Mr. Yushchenko came to Kiev's centra Independence Square to thank the tens-of-thousands of his supporters for their sacrifice in the streets.

He reminded the demonstrators that democracy sometimes takes time, noting that massive street protests that toppled the government in the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>former Soviet Republic of Georgia last year lasted at least three weeks.

Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has urged both sides to work to find a compromise.

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