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Yushchenko vows warm Kremlin ties

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Ukraine's opposition candidate for president said Friday whoever wins this weekend's election will enhance the nation's ties to Russia.

Viktor Yushchenko, who is running against government-sponsored candidate Victor Yanukovich, said he believes Russia is Ukraine's "eternal strategic partner," Novosti reported.

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The televised comments appeared calculated to ease worries among political leaders in Moscow and Kiev that a win by the pro-western Yushchenko would mean fresh strains between his administration and both Russia and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, many of whom supported Yanukovich in a Nov. 21 runoff between the two that was declared invalid because of widespread vote-rigging.

Yushchenko, whom most polls indicate will win Sunday's election, also said he does not support closing Russian-language schools or libraries.

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