Moscow's Man In Kiev Strikes Back

KIEV, Ukraine -- The defeated candidate from Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution says this time it's the former Soviet republic's pro-Western president who will be swept from power in the upcoming election.

Pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovich.

Viktor Yanukovych, the front-runner in opinion polls for the Jan. 17 ballot, called for improved relations with Russia, a jab at President Viktor Yushchenko, who has had a strained relationship with Ukraine's eastern neighbor.

"I have never denied the influence of the Russian factor in Ukrainian politics," Mr. Yanukovych said. "We should always have taken it into account."

Mr. Yanukovych, who was backed by Moscow in 2004, was initially declared the winner of the close vote. But hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets in Kiev in protests against alleged rigging. The Supreme Court called for a rerun, which was won by Mr. Yushchenko.

Mr. Yanukovych said he still considers himself the winner of the ballot, as the allegedly huge falsifications haven't been proved in court.

This time, opinion polls put Mr. Yanukovych in the lead ahead of the January vote, with 29% support, according to an October survey by the Razumkov Center in Kiev. Mr. Yushchenko trails in low single digits, while his bitter rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko -- his former Orange Revolution ally -- is polling in second place at 20%. She and Mr. Yanukovych are expected to make it to a second round of voting in February.

Observers attribute Mr. Yanukovych's resurgent popularity to the failure of Mr. Yushchenko to push through promised overhauls and the infighting between him and Ms. Tymoshenko.

Ukraine's gross domestic product contracted 18% in the first half of the year, damaging the rating of Ms. Tymoshenko, who as prime minister is responsible for the economy.

Mr. Yanukovych's campaign is focused less on questions of Russia and the West than in 2004, and more on social issues and the economy. The Party of Regions, which he leads, was the driving force behind legislation recently signed into law by Mr. Yushchenko which provides for large rises in wages and pensions.

The International Monetary Fund, which has helped shore up the Ukrainian economy with almost $11 billion in loans since last fall, has said the law is the biggest obstacle to further lending.

Mr. Yanukovych blamed Ms. Tymoshenko's government for not implementing the economic program agreed with the IMF, and said the law was needed to support low-income households during a biting crisis.

Mr. Yanukoych made clear that he would seek to improve ties with Russia, calling for "well-balanced" relations with the European Union and Russia, given Ukraine's strong economic ties with both neighbors.

He also said he wants to build "beneficial" relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but not seek membership until the majority of Ukrainians are in favor. Surveys show that currently isn't the case.

Mr. Yushchenko has repeatedly clashed with the Russian leadership over natural gas shipments that transit through Ukraine, his push for NATO membership and his support for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili during Russia's war with Georgia in 2008. In August, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a letter to Mr. Yushchenko condemning his "anti-Russian" policies.

Natural-gas supplies to the European Union have been cut twice after disputes between Ukraine and Russia. Mr. Yanukovych said he wouldn't allow interruptions to happen, although Mykola Azarov, one of his top advisers, said the contracts signed by Ms. Tymoshenko in Moscow in January were "extremely unfavorable" for Ukraine and should be revised.

Source: Wall Street Journal


wesley rodgers said…
I am very upset that the UKRAINE keeps getting meddled with by RUSSIAN agents and insecure leaders from the Kremlin and those bought out by RUSSIA to rule and dictate over the beautiful of the UKRAINE.!!

..PRESIDENT YUSCHENKO did not get many things accomplished because he had so many RUSSIAN agents working in the Ukraine and some infiltrated the "RADA" that is why the Ukraine is still striving for its own" destiny and integrity"...Membership min the E.U., and membership in NATO....So if RUSSIA decides to attack the Ukraine don't you think there should be some international shito protect the people in the Ukraine and eastern Europe..REALLY--RUSSIA has never changed..just the name KGB tyo FSB but still the same agenda.!!.I recently wrote an article in THE PHILADELPHIA BULLETIN" RUSSIA INCREASES SPYING AGAINST WESTERN TARGETS."
And lets be REAL..Russian agents perhaps some working in the Ukraine government DID try to kill the president...They are not from DISNEYWORLD!!

...I covered terrorism there and worked with fellow journalist Andriy Tsapliyenko of INNER TV NEWS...The Ukraine is a good country and YES it needs to work with Russia in some matters of economy and affairs BUT let us all remmember THE BIG BEAR still knows how to play RUSSIAN CHESS VERY welll....Wes Rodgers invited...GOD BLESS the fine people of the UKRAINE..They don;'t need threats or missle threats anymore It is 2009..THANK YOU NICHOLAS and READERS
From parliament to the churches it has become a disgrace....Does everyone remember what happened in Georgia...Well it was not nixce and the E.U. was gutless and slapped Russia on the wrists and said./.THAT IS NOT VERY NICE ...DON'T DO IT AGAIN.
..I am an American journalist who was based in the Ukraine aned covered the attempted assasination attempt of President Yuschenko and the aftermath of the ORANGE REVOLUTIOBN!!

..So now there will be a LEMON REVOLUTION...same old thing!
Recently I wrote an article in THE PHILAEDELPHIA BULLETIN" RUSSIA INCREASES SPYING AGAINST WESTERN TARGETS.".It is found on GOOGLE..I only hope for peace and happiness for the UKRAINE--its churches and society. Sba siba....Poka!..Maybe Yannakovich be defeated.........Maybe because if not things are not going to get much better!!

Many people in Philadelphia are quite interested in the coming election as they are Ukraine immigrants--I will keep you informed....Wes Rodgers