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Yanukovych intends to boost ties with Russia if elected president

RIA Novosti


KIEV, December 26 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych has said that should he win the country's upcoming presidential elections, he will seek for improving ties with Russia which has deteriorated during Viktor Yushchenko's presidency.

"What we have gained during the past five years is the distrust of the European Union and... of Russia," Yanukovych, the leader of the opposition Party of Regions, said on air of the Ukraina television channel late on Friday.

"As for Russia, this question is our priority. Russia is one of our main partners," he said.

The country's incumbent authorities have not invited the opposition to join a dialogue with Russia, Yanukovych said, adding "probably, we could influence this processes positively."

He said relations with Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia's partners in creating united economic space, should be also strengthened, adding the countries should be admitted to the World Trade Organization as soon as possible.

According to public polls, Yanukovych is a leading candidate in the Ukrainian presidential elections due on January 17, with some 29.8% of the voters expected to support his candidacy. Yanukovych's main rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is expected to receive 14.8% of the vote.

During Ukraine's previous presidential race in 2004, Yanukovych lost the vote to his political rival Viktor Yushchenko.