The International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) hosted Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko at a reception during his first trip as President to the United States.  President Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, Senator John McCain, Chairman of IRI and Secretary Madeleine K. Albright, Chairman of NDI also attended the event.

During his remarks, President Yushchenko told the guests, “I come here to say one important message to the United States, from now on Ukraine has gained independence and freedom.”  President Yushchenko also thanked IRI and NDI for their work, “Owing to you, owing to international observers and experts, owing to the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institutes, we were able to achieve free and fair elections in the third round [of elections].”  To watch President Yushchenko’s speech or the remarks of the other speakers please click on the links below.

President Yushchenko was elected on December 26, 2004 with 54 percent of the vote.  He was elected following an inspiring display of democracy by hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who gathered in Kyiv’s Independence Square to protest the official results of the November 21 presidential run-off election.  Ukraine’s Supreme Court ruled the November 21 election invalid and called for a re-vote to be held on December 26.  

IRI has been active in Ukraine since 1991, when the Institute sponsored an election observer mission for Ukraine’s vote for independence.  In 1993, IRI began democracy-building programs that focused on political party building and parliamentary training at the national and local levels.  Over the past 12 years, IRI has trained thousands of Ukrainians.  IRI’s programs continued to evolve to include training for locally-elected officials, development of youth and women auxiliary movements within political parties and development of nongovernmental organizations.

During his visit to the U.S., President Yushchenko met with President George Bush and spoke at a joint session of Congress.

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