Archive for February 2010

Yanukovich Inaugurated as Ukrainian President   Leave a comment

KIEV, UKRAINE: 25.FEB.2010: Viktor Yanukovich vowed to steer Ukraine on a course between Russia and the west as he was sworn in as Ukraine’s president today.

”Ukraine will choose such a foreign policy that will allow the state to get the maximum results from the development of equal and mutually advantageous relations with Russia, the European Union, the US and other governments,” he said at his inauguration ceremony in the country’s parliament.

He went on to describe his vision of Ukraine as a “neutral European state”.

Relations with Moscow soured under his predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, who pushed for Kiev to join Nato. To the satisfaction of Moscow, which strongly opposes Nato’s eastward expansion, Mr. Yanukovich has pledged to keep Ukraine out of any military bloc.

Despite a controversial background, which includes two stints in jail for petty crimes during his youth, Mr. Yanukovich’s victory, in an election dubbed largely democratic, has been well received by both Russia and the west. His inauguration was attended by senior officials from Brussels, Russia and former Soviet republics.

Mr. Yanukovich’s political career seemed doomed after he lost the 2004 presidential contest as the Moscow-backed candidate. This time round he capitalized on bitter rivalries between the Orange Revolution leaders and narrowly beat Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a February 7 run-off vote.

Despite winning the presidency, Mr Yanukovich has yet to consolidate enough political power in Kiev to push through his agenda.  In the near term, he will seek to remove Tymoshenko from her post as as prime minister, a position that holds more authority over domestic affairs than the presidency.

The most controversial of Mr. Yanukovich’s alleged plans include prolonging the stay of Russia’s Black Sea fleet at a Ukrainian port. Another controversial plan could give Russia, Europe and Ukrainian businessmen loyal to him a management stake in Ukraine’s strategic natural gas pipeline via a consortium. Granting Russian official state language status would be welcome in the heartland of his support in eastern Ukraine, but it would alienate western Ukraine, which speaks Ukrainian.