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21 Jun, 2007 18:42

Yanukovich in Moscow to chat about Ukrainian politics

Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich is visiting Moscow for the first time since an agreement was reached to hold new parliamentary elections later this year. It's hoped the elections will end months of political deadlock in Ukraine.

Officially, Viktor Yanukovich is in Moscow to boost economic ties between Russia and Ukraine. But no sooner had they shaken hands, Vladimir Putin turned to Ukrainian politics.

“We are following the events in Ukraine with deep regret. Because at a time when the country is experiencing real economic growth, an improvement in the social sphere, it suddenly faces political turmoil. But we hope one of our main partners within the former USSR and even one of our main economic and political partners in the world will be able to resolve this crisis as soon as possible and in a legitimate way,” President Putin noted.

Earlier this month Vladimir Putin met his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. After months of political turmoil Yuschenko and his Prime Minister have agreed to an unscheduled parliamentary election in September. But it seems Moscow’s grown weary of its neighbours troubles.

“Ukraine still suffers from a political crisis that started almost two months ago. The main goal we managed to achieve during this period, which we consider as a victory, is that all legal bodies began to act within the legal framework. Among the unresolved issues are mainly those linked with a fair election and impeded by the opposition,” Viktor Yanukovich stressed.

The Ukrainian Prime Minister went on to move things from the political crisis to big money that he hopes will be even bigger. Bilateral trade is going up – and Viktor Yanukovich wants to more than triple the current figure of almost $US 8 BLN before the year ends. But experts say the visit is still a political move.

“It is quite clear that it partially has to do with the upcoming election, because both gentlemen, the Prime Minister and the President, will be running against each other. So I have no doubt that partially it is just to gain some support and understanding with regards to the September 30 parliamentary election,” Aleksandr Lebedev, a State Duma Deputy, said.

Strains between the two ex-Soviet neighbors are no secret. Viktor Yushchenko’s EU and NATO membership ambitions are a bitter pill for Moscow to swallow. But ending the official part of the talks, Viktor Yanukovich painted a rosy picture. The Ukrainian Prime Minister stressed he was looking into the future with optimism. The two countries’ friendship he said guarantees that they will always be reliable partners. But whether the rest of the talks were as positive remained behind closed doors.