Ukraine’s east-west political divide is being reflected on the international stage. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is on an official visit to Brazil, congratulated Viktor Yanukovich. He reportedly told the prime minister that the election had been “hard fought” but “open and honest”. Putin added that the pro-Moscow candidate’s “victory was convincing”. The Russian leader gave Yanukovich implicit support by visiting Ukraine twice during the campaign.
But one of Putin’s opposition rivals, Grigori Yavlinski, was scathing of his actions. He said the Kremlin had not played fair: “It is not a big surprise that Russian authorities were trying to be engaged in this process of Ukrainian elections. They were trying to interfere and they were successful in this interfering. So I think Russia played a very negative role in that.”
The European Union has called on Kiev to urgently review the election results. Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot also expressed fears that demonstrations could get out of hand. “We also of course call on the authorities to show restraint because I understand that many people are gathering not only in Kiev but also in other cities, but we call for restraint and that all sides express themselves in a non-violent manner,” he said.
Washington has threatened to review its relationship with Kiev in light of the allegations of election fraud. The Americans warn they could cut back aid or freeze assets if the Ukrainians fail to investigate.