VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II has told Ukrainians he is praying for peace in their country, where tensions are running high following a bitterly disputed presidential election.
In his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on November 28 and in a similar greeting to Ukrainians four days earlier, the Pope steered clear of taking a stand on the results of the November 21 election that appeared to give a slim victory to the Russian backed candidate for President, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
Catholic officials of the former Soviet republic, including Ukrainian Catholic Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Lviv, said they, like many people, believed the election was marred by fraud and intimidation.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Supreme Court was considering an appeal by supporters of Mr Yanukovych’s opponent, pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko, to throw out the results, which they said were invalid.
Protests on the streets of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv drew as many as 200,000 people after the announcement of election results.
In an interview on November 26, Cardinal Husar told Vatican Radio that Mr Yanukovych and his supporters were responsible for the current unrest because “they dealt with people in a very difficult, communist way, in the sense of a structural Bolshevik regime way where the party and the government decide everything and the people have nothing to say”.