Ex-leader rips current Ukraine government

Feb. 4, 2010 at 10:29 AM   |   Comments

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KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Ukraine's former president blamed the country's current leaders for the strained relationship between Ukraine and traditional ally Russia.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have soured since the 2004 Orange Revolution following the breakup of the former Soviet Union. Among other things, the country sought to join NATO and the European Union, and sided with Georgia in 2008 in its confrontation with Russia over several breakaway regions.

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said actions by the country's current government are a "snub" to Russia, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

"The lion's share of responsibility for the deteriorating relations with Russia lies on the Ukrainian leadership," Kuchma said. "Everything the current leaders have done was as a snub to Russia. Such policies have caused Ukraine a lot of damage, and it has not become closer to the West."

Kuchma, Ukraine's president from 1994 to 2005, said current policies are undermining the country's international posture.

While president, Kuchma oversaw a rapid economic growth in Ukraine and sought to improve ties with Russia, RIA Novosti said. However, his presidency was marred by several corruption scandals.

Ukraine's presidential runoff election is Sunday between Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych.

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