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Yushchenko: Rebuilding Ties With Russia Will Take Time

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) with outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma earlier this year 28 December 2004 -- The apparent winner of Ukraine's repeat presidential election, Viktor Yushchenko, told the Russian daily "Izvestiya" that it will take time to rebuild Ukrainian-Russian relations following his country's bruising election crisis.

Yushchenko said many Ukrainians will not quickly forget what he described as Moscow's interference in the election on behalf of Yushchenko's rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Yushchenko said that his first trip as president will nevertheless be to Moscow. He also pledged to end hostility between Ukraine's western region and the mainly Russian-speaking eastern region.

Meanwhile, his rival Yanukovych told "Izvestiya" that the United States made what he called concerted efforts to ensure the victory of Yushchenko.

The preliminary vote count from the 26 December balloting gave Yushchenko 52 percent compared to Yanukovych's 44 percent with 99.9 percent of precincts counted by this morning.

Yanukovych has refused to concede defeat and vowed to appeal. An earlier election in late November -- which according to discredited official results Yanukovych won -- was annulled by the Supreme Court on 1 December.


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[For more RFE/RL coverage and analysis, see our dedicated "Ukraine's Disputed Election" website.]