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Kyiv Comes Under Pressure From West And Russia At Yalta Conference

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych delivers a speech during the ninth Yalta Annual Meeting "Ukraine and the World: Addressing Tomorrow's Challenges Together" in the Black Sea resort of Yalta on September 14.
A senior U.S. official has warned that Ukraine's parliamentary elections next month risk falling short of democratic standards and further damaging the country's ties with the West.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia, speaking at a conference in Ukraine's Black Sea resort of Yalta, said significant steps were required to ensure the October 28 poll would free and fair.

A day earlier, EU officials in Yalta expressed a dim view of Ukraine's democratic progress under President Viktor Yanukovych, saying the case of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko remains a stumbling block to good relations.

Meanwhile, Russian officials at the Yalta conference urged Ukraine to join the Moscow-led customs union or continue to face high energy prices.

Ukraine has resisted such an alliance in favor of closer ties with the EU.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP