Russia 100222 Basic Political Developments

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10:36 22.02.2010
text: "Kazakhstan Today"

Almaty. February 22. Kazakhstan Today - The President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, charged the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation to work on the question of joining of Ukraine of the process of the formation of the Customs Union of the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus, the agency reports citing ITAR-TASS.

"I sincerely hope that the new leadership of Ukraine, the new President of Ukraine, Yanukovych Victor Fedorovich, will bring contribution to strengthening of mutual relations, trade relations, economic relations as a whole - not only with Russia, but also with other countries," D. Medvedev underlined.
FEBRUARY 22, 2010

Wall Street Journal: Ukraine's President-Elect to Visit Moscow

Russian President Medvedev Agreed to Meet Viktor Yanukovych in March, after Challenges to the Election Were Dropped


KIEV, Ukraine—Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called Viktor Yanukovych this weekend as soon as the Ukrainian president-elect's challenger dropped a legal battle to block his inauguration. According to the Kremlin, the two men agreed that Mr. Yanukovych would visit Moscow in early March.

On Sunday, however, Mr. Yanukovych's aides declined to confirm or deny anything about a visit, though his Web site posted the Kremlin announcement. Hanna Herman, a legislator and a deputy leader of Mr. Yanukovych's Party of Regions, said the president-elect's first priority was to form a new government and deal with domestic problems.

The call from the Kremlin on Saturday signals Russia's interest in reasserting a preferential relationship with its former Soviet neighbor. But the reaction in Kiev leaves it unclear in which direction Mr. Yanukovych will tilt Ukraine, a country of 46 million wedged between Russia and the West.

Ukraine embraced a Western agenda after the 2004 Orange Revolution, when mass protests alleging electoral fraud overturned Mr. Yanukovych's tainted victory in that year's presidential election. Viktor Yushchenko won the revote and antagonized the Kremlin, which had openly backed Mr. Yanukovych, by pushing to advance negotiations to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and by supporting Georgia during its 2008 war with Russia.

In the recent campaign, the Kremlin played no favorite, and Mr. Yanukovych straddled the fence, calling for good relations with Russia and with the European Union. Ms. Herman had indicated last week that his first presidential trip abroad could be to Brussels.

The question of Mr. Yanukovych's foreign-policy priorities could complicate his effort to form a majority in parliament and replace Yulia Tymoshenko, his bitter rival in the presidential race, as prime minister.

Ms. Tymoshenko on Saturday dropped her court challenge to the results of the Feb. 7 election, clearing the way for Mr. Yanukovych's inauguration on Thursday. She said there was no point in pursuing the case after the Supreme Administrative Court refused to consider evidence she presented alleging vote falsification in favor of her opponent, who won by a margin of 3.48%.

As the political struggle moves to parliament, Mr. Yanukovych's opposition Party of Regions is trying to persuade two parties in Ms. Tymoshenko's fragile coalition to switch sides and oust her as prime minister. One of those parties, Mr. Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, is divided: Its many nationalist supporters in western Ukraine are wary of Mr. Yanukovych because he has shown himself willing to take Russia's positions into account.

In interviews with Russian journalists last week, Mr. Yanukovych said he wouldn't pursue NATO membership and would consider prolonging an agreement to base Russia's Black Sea Fleet on Ukrainian soil. The Kremlin also wants Ukraine to join a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, a step that could impede Kiev's talks on a trade agreement with the European Union.

Ms. Tymoshenko met with Our Ukraine lawmakers last week in an attempt to persuade them to stick with her coalition.

If Mr. Yanukovych fails to form a majority, he has said he would call early parliamentary elections. That prospect would prolong political uncertainty and further damage Ukraine's economy, which shrank 15% last year.

Write to James Marson at

RIA: Russia ready to resume poultry talks with United States next Sunday

Russia's chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko said Sunday he was ready to discuss U.S. poultry supplies to Russia, suspended from January 1, on February 28.

"They proposed meeting with us March 1-2. We confirmed our earlier voiced wish: we are ready at any moment, the sooner the better. They fly in on February 28, and I am ready to meet them on that day," he told RIA Novosti.

Russia banned imports of U.S. chlorine-treated poultry as of January 1, citing new safety requirements. Washington, which supplied 22% of poultry consumed in Russia last year, says the move will damage American poultry industry and push prices up for Russian consumers.

The new requirements, which apply to both imports and meat processed in Russia, state that the amount of chlorine in the solution used for the processing of poultry meat should not exceed the level set for drinking water, 0.3-0.5 milligrams per liter. They also state the fluid that separates when defrosting the meat should not exceed 4% of the total weight of the bird.

Chlorine in the United States has been used as the primary anti-microbial treatment for a quarter of a century.

Russia's quota for the United States this year is 600,000 metric tons of poultry. Imports from the United States, the world's largest poultry producer and exporter, accounted for some 750,000 tons of poultry consumed in Russia last year.

Russian producers and public have long been speculating over the possible dangers of the U.S. product, citing excessive levels of hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and other chemicals.

A U.S. expert earlier said the United States has its own strict poultry quality requirements and should it agree to Russian demands, it would no longer fall in line with its own sanitary requirements. Another American expert said it is more important for the U.S. to follow its own regulations than Russian ones not to lose its domestic market. He added that high content of chlorine is banned in Europe as a preventive measure while its risk has not been proven.

MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti)

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