Pope's Prayers Helped Make Ukraine's 'Orange Revolution' a Success: Yushchenko

WARSAW, Poland -- Pope John Paul II's prayers helped make Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" a success and enable the country to move towards democracy without violence, President Viktor Yushchenko said Monday as he began a visit to the pontiff's native Poland.

"I know that millions of people and Pope John Paul II in particular prayed for the Orange Revolution... Without those prayers, the revolution would doubtless not have been such a big success," Yushchenko said at a joint press conference with Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski.

Kwasniewski said that the Polish-born pope "was very interested in Ukraine" and "brought up the subject" of Poland's eastern neighbour at each of their eight meetings.

"I am certain that the happy ending to the Ukrainian crisis was a day of joy for the pope," said Kwasniewski, who played a key role in brokering a way out of the crisis that arose in Ukraine after a controversial election in November.

The pro-Moscow candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, claimed to have won despite accusations of fraud and intimidation by the opposition.

As a result of mediation by Poland and other countries, a rerun election was held on December 26 which saw pro-Western opposition leader Yushchenko swept to victory against Yanukovich.