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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN MOSCOW. The newly elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, arrived in Moscow on 24 January, his first foreign trip since being sworn in as president the previous day, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Yushchenko will meet with President Putin and is expected to discuss the current state of bilateral relations in the aftermath of the Ukrainian presidential election in which Putin supported then Premier Viktor Yanukovych over Yushchenko. Other possible topics are the status of the border in the Kerch Straits and the deployment of Russia's Black Sea fleet on Ukrainian territory, NTV and other agencies reported. Yushchenko also is scheduled to meet with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksii II. "I would like to form a successful policy with Russia and am sure that my proposals will meet with understanding in Moscow," the Ukrainian presidential press service quoted Yushchenko as saying, NTV reported on 24 January. "Moscow awaits Yushchenko as a crucial partner as our countries are linked by a common history, geography, economy, and fate," said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yakovenko on 24 January, RTR reported. VY

RUSSIAN LIBERAL LEADERS SAY UKRAINIAN EXPERIENCE 'INVALUABLE.' Russia officially sent Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov to the inauguration of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in Kyiv on 23 January, while two former leaders of the Union of Rightist Forces, Boris Nemtsov and Anatolii Chubais, came on their own initiative, Russian media reported on 23 January. Nemtsov said that "the Ukrainian experience is invaluable for Russia" and that "if Ukraine succeeds, Russia also will have a chance to manage it," uteri .ru reported on 23 January. He added that the inauguration of Yushchenko is an "historic day for Ukraine and the whole Slavic world.... We are witness to the birth of a new Ukrainian nation." Meanwhile, Yushchenko said on the eve of his visit to Moscow that he will offer President Vladmir Putin "a new format of negotiations for deepening our relations," ITAR-TASS reported on 23 January. VY

UKRAINE'S PRO-MOSCOW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GOES TO MOSCOW AHEAD OF YUSHCHENKO. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister and pro-Moscow presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, who lost the presidential race to Yushchenko, arrived 23 January in Moscow for talks with Russian politicians, RosBalt and Regnum reported on 23 January, citing a "source within the administration of the Ukrainian president [Yushchenko]." In Moscow, Yanukovych reportedly met on 23 January with Putin, presidential administration chief Dmitrii Medvedev, and Duma Speaker Gryzlov. Yanukovych reportedly discussed his new role as leader of the opposition. He also reportedly asked Putin "to be tough" during forthcoming talks with Yushchenko and not to introduce "double citizenship" for residents of Ukraine, according to RosBalt's source. VY

PUTIN MEETS WITH KYRGYZ PRESIDENT. President Putin met in Moscow on 23 January with Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev to discuss economic and trade relations, as well as cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, RTR reported. RTR suggested that the real purpose of Akaev's visit to Moscow is mutual concern over the fate of his regime in the run-up to the parliamentary elections to be held there on 27 February. Moscow, which has a military base in Kyrgyzstan, reportedly fears that Kyrgyzstan may follow the example of Ukraine and have its own "Orange Revolution," RTR commented. VY

NEW UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TAKES OATH OF OFFICE... Viktor Yushchenko formally became Ukraine's president on 23 January, taking an oath of office in the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv, Ukrainian and international media reported. Yushchenko swore the oath on the Ukrainian Constitution and the Peresopnytske Gospels, a Ukrainian book dating back to the 1550s. In a subsequent speech to the lawmakers, Yushchenko thanked them for "[defending] Ukrainian democracy" and "[saving] the unity, integrity, and independence of our nation." "Today I would like to extend my hand to every parliamentarian of each faction, to every leader of each faction, and ask for your cooperation. We have one goal -- a prosperous and democratic Ukraine," Yushchenko said. JM

...AND PLEDGES TO STEER UKRAINE TOWARD EUROPEAN UNION. Following his oath in the Verkhovna Rada and a review of the guard of honor of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in front of the presidential palace, President Yushchenko addressed a 500,000-strong crowd of cheering supporters on Independence Square, Ukrainian media reported. "Ukrainians will occupy their rightful place in the community of nations. Ukraine will be neither a buffer zone, nor a playing field for somebody else's competition," Yushchenko said. "We, with the [European] nations, belong to the same civilization. We share the same values. History, economic perspective [and] the interests of our people give us a clear answer to the question: Where is our destiny? Our place is in the European Union and my goal is 'Ukraine in United Europe'." JM

WASHINGTON OFFERS HELPING HAND TO NEW UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT. Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who led a U.S. delegation to President Yushchenko's inauguration, told Yushchenko in Kyiv on 23 January that Washington will do all it can "to help you meet the expectations that the Ukrainian people now have," Reuters reported. Powell also praised the "magnificent success on your part because you prevailed in open, free, and fair elections." Speaking with journalists before his meeting with Yushchenko, Powell said Washington will help Ukraine boost its economy and join the World Trade Organization. The previous day, U.S. President George W. Bush called Yushchenko to congratulate him on his election, Interfax reported. A Russian delegation to Yushchenko's inauguration was headed by Sergei Mironov, chairman of the Council of the Federation, Russia's upper house. Fulfilling his election pledge, Yushchenko flew to Moscow on 24 January, on his first official visit as Ukraine's president. JM