Ukraine's PM Delays Moscow Trip

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has delayed a planned visit to Moscow after a top Russian official said she was still a "wanted criminal".
Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov said an arrest warrant for Mrs Tymoshenko remained in force, although she had immunity.

Mrs Tymoshenko is said to have postponed her trip in protest.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

The warrant relates to allegations of fraud while in charge of Ukraine's main gas distributor - claims she denies.

Mrs Tymoshenko was one of the driving forces behind the Ukrainian "orange revolution" that resulted in victory for the pro-Western opposition led by Viktor Yushchenko.

Moscow had backed rival candidate Viktor Yanukovych.

Mrs Tymoshenko's appointment as prime minister was seen by many analysts in Moscow as a challenge to Russia.

'No obstacles'

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisted there were no obstacles on the Russian side to her planned visit.

He said President Vladimir Putin had made it clear duing a recent visit to Kiev that the Russian government was "eagerly awaiting her in Moscow".

"He said there are no impediments to her visit and that we are ready for the very broadest, most wide-ranging and very fullest co-operation with the Ukrainian prime minister and, it goes without saying, with the Ukrainian president," he told Channel One TV on Wednesday.

Mrs Tymoshenko's spokesman Vitaly Chepinoga said the visit was being delayed "because Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko gave an order recommending the Ukrainian prime minister... avoid foreign travel for now", the AFP news agency reported.