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Putin Criticizes Ukrainian Push For New Vote

Putin (left) and Kuchma earlier this year 2 December 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today criticized the Ukrainian opposition's push to repeat that country's disputed presidential election.

Putin, who met with Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma at a government airport outside Moscow, suggested that repeating the 21 November runoff might not resolve the current crisis.

"A repeat of the second round [of the presidential election] might fail to work, too," Putin said. "Will it have to be held three, four, or 20-five times then, until one of the parties gets the desired result?"

Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko is demanding a new vote because he says election fraud robbed him of victory in favor of Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Both Kuchma and Putin supported Yanukovych in Ukraine's presidential election.

Kuchma has called for a completely new election, rather than just a repetition of the runoff.

Kuchma today also said that political power could be temporarily turned over to parliament while plans for a new presidential vote were worked out.

U.S. President George W. Bush said today that other countries must not meddle as Ukrainians sort out the crisis.

(compiled from wire reports)

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

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