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#9 - JRL 8469 - JRL Home
DID RUSSIA BACK THE WRONG UKRAINIAN CANDIDATE?

MOSCOW, Nov 24 (RIA Novosti) - Leonid Kuchma will meet with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg soon. The Russian president's press secretary, Alexei Gromov, has confirmed this news.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta recalls that Mr. Putin was the first foreign leader to congratulate the current Ukrainian prime minister, the authorities' presidential candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, on his victory in the elections before the official results were declared.

Meanwhile, an opposition rally of 200,000 people in central Kiev has proclaimed its leader, Viktor Yushchenko, the president, and the parliamentary opposition has attempted to swear him in.

Stanislav Belkovsky, a Russian political scientist and head of the National Strategy Institute, believes that Mr. Putin's experts were mistaken in assessing the situation in Ukraine in the run-up to the vote. "We should have never have backed Mr. Yanukovich. There were five or six politicians in Ukraine who could have defeated Mr. Yushchenko. Now we are witnessing a revolutionary situation."

The political expert explained that the only possible compromise in this crisis could be to recognize Mr. Yushchenko as the winner of the elections, to appoint Socialist Party leader [Oleksandr] Moroz prime minister, and to form a coalition government to incorporate, in particular, the Communists and Mr. Yanukovich's supporters.

Some Ukrainian experts believe that Russia is currently finishing a game imposed on it by Kremlin political expert, Gleb Pavlovsky. "However, every step President Putin is making in this game is complicating Ukrainian-Russian relations for years to come," said a parliamentarian of the Ukrainian Rada.