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  Saturday, December 7, 2019
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Some of Russia's leading politicians will be cheering on Ukraine during the 2006 World Soccer Cup
Some of Russia's leading politicians will be cheering on Ukraine during the 2006 World Soccer Cup, which kicks off in Germany on Friday. With the Russian team failing to qualify for the tournament, the country's political elite suggested that difficult relations with Kiev this year would not stop them supporting their former stable mate in the U.S.S.R. "I would like to see Ukraine advancing as close to the final stages of the tournament as possible," said Boris Gryzlov, the leader of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and speaker of the lower chamber of parliament. He added that he had many friends on coach Oleg Blokhin's team, which will face Spain, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in the group stage. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultranationalist leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), also said he would be cheering for Ukraine, even though he was denied entry to the country earlier this week. The secretary of the political council of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) Boris Nadezhdin said he wanted to see Brazil and Germany in the final, but still said he would be rooting for the Ukrainians in the early stages. "Once in four years every man finally gets to enjoy some happy days," he said. "I will cheer for Ukraine because they are our people after all." Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky agreed with common opinion that Brazil was the tournament favorite, but said he would be supporting his birthplace. "I will cheer for Ukraine, not only because I was born there, but also because they do have a great team and a great coach," Yavlinsky said. "I hope they play well." He added, though, that he hoped to be in a different position in four years' time. "I would still like to support Russian in 2010," he said. Ivan Melnikov, a senior member of the Communist Party, seemed to be the only parliamentarian to bring politics into the soccer festival, but even he sided with his colleagues. "I believe we should cheer for Ukrainians despite the outrageous behavior of this country's leaders," he said.
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