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MOSCOW, November 30 (Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika Foundation for RIA Novosti) The Ukrainian opposition will have little chance of success if clashes break out on this country's streets. The same outcome of the "velvet revolutions" in Belgrade and Tbilisi is no guaranteed in Kiev, despite the fact that many experts specializing in this kind of "revolution" are currently in Ukraine.

Russia is very interested in the stability in Ukraine and in its development as a strong and independent state.

The Kremlin officially supported Victor Yanukovich during presidential elections, trying to protect its interests in Ukraine, which coincide with the interests of those who really want to see Ukraine as a free, independent and prosperous country.

In reality, Russia is not really enraptured with Mr. Yanukovich. It simply cannot accept Victor Yuschenko. And there are two reasons. First, he is a vocal advocate of Ukraine's withdrawal from the so-called Unified Economic Space (UES), which is being formed in cooperation with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Yuschenko and his supporters voted against the UES in the Ukrainian Rada (parliament). If Ukraine leaves the UES, both the Russian economy and, especially, the Ukrainian economy, will suffer. Secondly, a Yuschenko victory would mean Ukraine's accession to NATO in the next two to three years. Washington and the Ukrainian opposition leader have already exchanged promises. I do not think it is necessary to explain why Russian and Ukrainian people are not really happy about the prospect of having the US 6th Fleet stationed in Sevastopol and Odessa, US Marines walking on the streets of Kiev, NATO bombers landing on airfields near Poltava and US missile defense systems deployed somewhere in the Lugansk region or on the Crimea peninsula. In this case, we would have to forget about friendship with Ukraine, and Ukrainians would have to forget about their sovereignty.

Those who accuse Russia of intervening in the Ukrainian presidential elections in Ukraine, deliberately "forget" other countries' intervention in the events. Only naive or cunning people can assume or claim that Mr. Yuschenko does not enjoy foreign support. The leaders of all major Western countries have expressed their support for him. They would have done it officially, if there were at least one Western political figure who would enjoy at least a tenth of the authority Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has among Ukrainians. The United States has allocated tens of millions of dollars for various programs "in support of democracy" closely related with Mr. Yuschenko's election campaign. Even more money was channeled through various Western charity funds, non-governmental organizations that financed Ukrainian "democratic organizations," the media, mobilization programs targeting young voters, and cultural events organized by Mr. Yuschenko's supporters. Dozens of Western (and Russian) political spin-doctors and image-makers work in the opposition's headquarters. There were three times as many American observers as Russian ones. And I am not even speaking about the Western media. If the Russian media tried to present various views and opinions about Mr. Yuschenko and Mr. Yanukovich on the TV, radio and in the press, the Western media chose a completely opposite approach. All sources, without exception cried out: "It is our last and decisive fight!"

"The victory of the 'democrat and pro-Westerner' Yuschenko over the 'reactionary and Russophile' Yanukovich will allow us to 'close the Russian issue' and to put an end to Russian imperialism once and for all."

By depriving Russia of its historical roots, the Western powers can push Russia into a remote corner, where it is supposed to sit tight and keep quiet forever. They certainly have a point when they speak about leaving Russia without its roots. After all, Moscow was founded by Kiev princes and many of Russia's sacred places are in Ukraine. Kiev Rus engendered the Russian-Ukrainian civilization.

There was extensive intervention in the election from all sides. It would be strange if the opposite were true. Democrats in many countries are used to providing assistance to their comrades and like-minded people in foreign countries. German Christian democrats or social democrats during elections conduct propaganda campaigns in favor of their Italian counterparts. This is common for Western democracies. When in 1996 leaders of G7 countries came to Moscow to support Boris Yeltsin, nobody (except the Communists) even thought of complaining about "interference in Russia's internal affairs."

Was it wise for Putin to congratulate Mr. Yanukovich on his victory? Why not? I have no doubt that Mr. Yanukovich, indeed, won the elections. He simply could not lose. After the first round, which was basically a draw, two major events occurred in Ukraine. First, according to all public opinion polls, Mr. Yanukovich clearly won the ensuing TV debates. Secondly, the voter turnout in the east of Ukraine increased significantly. These two events shifted the balance toward the candidature of Yanukovich. Public opinion polls and "non-Yuschenko" exit polls predicted his victory on the eve of the second round. Certainly, there was chicanery during the elections. However, who could say which side cheated more. One of the miracles during the second round was the 85% participation of the voters in pro-Yuschenko's and usually inactive western Ukraine, where up to 50% of the population spends most of the time abroad looking for work. The same is about "grandmothers from Lvov," receiving election ballot papers in 20 names...Why shouldn't Yanukovich supporters celebrate victory? People who criticize Russia's position during the elections in Ukraine (and there are many of them in the world) claim that Russia does not and cannot have any national interests. They also insist that the United States and Australia have more to do with Ukraine than the Russians who have close and long cultural, historical and simply human ties with the Ukrainians. Whatever the outcome of the crisis in Ukraine, these ties will last forever.