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Russia Says Ties With West Being Tested

28 November 2004 -- A top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday called Ukraine's election dispute a "powerful test" of Russia's relations with the West and accused politicians in the United States and Europe of fomenting political change in the former Soviet republic.

Sergei Yastrzhembskii, in an interview on state-run RTR television, said "certain forces" in the West have decided to test "the strength of post-Soviet territory."

He said street protests against the official results in Ukraine bear "the same signature" as demonstrations that brought down former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000 and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze last year, and also likened them to Poland's anticommunist Solidarity movement of the 1980s.

But Yastrzhembskii, Putin's special representative for ties with the European Union, said he does not see a "serious chill" in relations with Europe and said that it is not in either side's interest to alienate the other.