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Yushchenko called for 'Ukraine in a United Europe' 24 January 2005 -- Viktor Yushchenko is due today to make his first foreign trip as Ukrainian president to Russia, where he is expected to hold talks in the Kremlin with President Vladimir Putin.

During the Ukrainian election campaign, Putin had shown a clear preference for Yushchenko's rival, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. But Putin has extended congratulations to Yushchenko after his triumph over Yanukovych in the 26 December repeat election.

In an address in Kyiv's Independence Square following his inauguration yesterday, Yushchenko pledged to steer a new course for Ukraine -- away from corruption and cronyism and toward European Union membership.

"Our path to the future is the path that united Europe is undertaking," Yushchenko said. "We, with the [European] nations, belong to the same civilization. We share the same values. History, economic perspective [and] the interests of our people give us a clear answer to the question: Where is our destiny? Our place is in the European Union and my goal is 'Ukraine in a United Europe.'"

Yushchenko, who made no direct mention of Russia in his speech, said his inauguration marked a victory of freedom over tyranny.

The inauguration was attended by dignitaries including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

(ITAR-TASS/Reuters/AP)
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