KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The massive post-election demonstrations in Kiev came very close to being swarmed and disbanded by the military, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
The newspaper said it had learned outgoing President Leonid Kuchma was under significant pressure from several high-ranking officials, including Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich to deploy the army to the central square.
"The key moment came on Sunday, Nov. 28 (a week after crowds took to Kiev streets), when soldiers were given bullets," opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko said. "Then they were going around not with empty machine guns, but already fully armed. I think that was the peak of the whole conflict."
Western diplomats told the newspaper Kuchma apparently resisted the pressure and called off the Interior Ministry troops because he did not want to leave office with blood on his hands.
Tens of thousands of protesters massed following the Nov. 21 election in which widespread vote-rigging was alleged in favor of Yanukovich, who was declared the winner. Both the Supreme Court and parliament then ordered a new election, now set for Dec. 26.