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Russia, Ukraine Object To New Bulgarian Candidate For Top UN Post

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova (left) and European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva are candidates to head the UN.

Russia and Ukraine were among several countries that raised questions about Bulgaria's nomination of European Union commissioner Kristalina Georgieva to become the next United Nations secretary-general.

Russia, Angola, Uruguay, and Malaysia -- all members of the UN Security Council -- asked Sofia for clarification on September 29 after it offered Georgieva as Bulgaria's "sole and unique candidate" for the top post.

Bulgaria had previously nominated UNESCO chief Irina Bokova to replace retiring UN chief Ban Ki-moon but reconsidered her candidacy after she fared poorly in straw polls.

Bokova -- who is considered more pro-Russia than Georgieva -- has said she will stay in the race even though she no longer has Bulgaria's official backing.

"Russia wasn't involved at all in this" candidate "swap," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on September 29.

Sofia had portrayed the candidacy as an effort to elevate an Eastern European for the first time into the top UN job on behalf of all states in the region, including Russia.

Separately, AFP reported that Ukraine's UN Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko objected to Georgieva's late entry into the race.

"I think she is too late," he said. "The way it is done is not fully correct."

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS