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9 October 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated during a meeting today with his Ukrainian counterpart that Moscow has an interest in the results of Ukraine's upcoming presidential election.
Putin, meeting with Leonid Kuchma in Moscow, said Russia "is not indifferent to the choice that the people of Ukraine will make in the presidential election."
The campaign for Ukraine's 31 October vote to replace Kuchma has been tense. The two top candidates are Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, supported by Kuchma, and opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko.
Yanukovich has called for stronger ties with Russia, and Moscow has openly favored his candidacy. Russian state television showed Putin greeting Yanukovych, who accompanied Kuchma to Moscow for the talks.