Kiev Steps Up Criticism Of Spat

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's office on Wednesday criticized what it called "elements of xenophobia" in Russia's spat with Georgia.

Viktor Yushchenko (L) and Mikheil Saakashvili (R)

"Ukraine is very much concerned with all cases of human rights violations that are taking place today in connection with the situation around Georgia, including elements of xenophobia," said Oleksandr Chaly, Yushchenko's top foreign policy adviser.

The statement was the harshest yet by Ukraine, which has close ties with Georgia but has taken a very cautious approach to the dispute.

The Ukrainian government has come under fire from some politicians for not rushing to Georgia's defense. Chaly, however, defended Yushchenko's response.

He said "a whole number of visits" by senior Georgian and Ukrainian officials were being arranged, and that Yushchenko had been in telephone contact with his Georgian counterpart, President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Yushchenko had also offered to mediate, if asked.

Source: The Moscow Times