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The presidential race in Ukraine is over
The presidential race in Ukraine is over, argues Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the State Duma, or Russia's lower house of parliament. As the Russian MP said in a RIA interview Monday, the acknowledgment by international observers that the rerun was closer to international standards than the first two rounds, as well as the wide enough margin between the candidates make unlikely the prospect of the polls' legitimacy being called into question. There were some irregularities this time around, as well, Mr. Kosachev said, adding that the loser, incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, was planning to contest the outcome of the rerun. Yet, in his view, the presidential campaign is over now. The political crisis, however, has not yet been fully resolved, and its settlement will depend on the new government's policies. "If [President elect Viktor] Yushchenko fails to overcome the inertia of the election campaign, when he came out with radical statements about not accepting the Ukrainian government, when he spoke against the implementation of projects for rapprochement with Russia, Ukraine is in for a grave split," the Russian lawmaker warned. But if Yushchenko rises above the election passions and proves able to develop a presidential program mindful of the interests of the entire nation rather than just the western Ukrainians, whose support he enjoys, Ukraine will have a chance to get out of the crisis, our interviewee pointed out. Mr. Kosachev highlighted a number of positive aspects to Yushchenko's public statements, specifically his plan to have Russia as the destination of his first foreign visit in the presidential capacity. Yushchenko's declared intention to withdraw Ukrainian troops from Iraq attests to his readiness to pursue a foreign policy oriented toward Ukraine's national interests rather than those of European countries and the United States, arguesthe legislator. "These indications are good ones unless they are a mere declaration," Mr. Kosachev said. If he substantiates his pronouncements with some concrete actions, Yushchenko is the right man for the job, he concluded. On the downside, Yushchenko is unwilling to have Russian as Ukraine's second national language, and believes that the project of economic reintegration with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will run counter to Ukraine's plans to join the European Union and the World Trade Organization, Mr. Kosachev said. Which of Yushchenko's statements are mere rhetoric and which of them actually express his political ambitions is what will define Ukraine's future, our interviewee said in conclusion
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