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Putin Ally Says Ukraine Faces Split, Bloodshed

Duma Speaker Gryzlov (file photo) 30 November 2004 -- Russian State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said today that Ukraine is headed for breakup or bloodshed over its disputed presidential election.

Gryzlov last week took part in attempts to mediate between pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the declared winner of the 21 November presidential runoff, and his West-leaning opposition challenger, Viktor Yushchenko.

Gryzlov today accused the Ukrainian opposition of failing to carry out its part of what he claimed was an agreement reached at the talks to end protests against the election

Gryzlov said that the Russian Duma, the lower house of parliament, will hear from leaders of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, where support for Yanukovych is strong particularly among many native Russian-speakers. Voters in eastern Ukraine backed Yanukovych in the election and authorities in Donetsk have threatened to demand autonomy if Yanukovych is denied victory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin helped boost Yanukovych's campaign in the run-up to the Ukrainian presidential election, and he has twice sent congratulatory messages to the Ukrainian prime minister in steps that many in the West have suggested were premature.

The seeming rift has highlighted differences between Moscow's policies toward former Soviet states and policies emanating from Washington and Brussels.


[Click here for more RFE/RL coverage of Ukraine's disputed presidential election.]

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