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Medvedev: Russia staying out of Ukrainian political fray

MOSCOW, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday he viewed Ukraine as an important regional partner though recent political unrest is an internal matter.

Medvedev met in Moscow with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Boiko and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov to discuss developments in the former Soviet republic.

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"You are having quite an active political season now," Medvedev was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. "Certainly, we are closely following what is going on in your country, but, undeniably, this is Ukraine's internal affair."

Protests erupted in Kiev last week and are ongoing in response to a decision by Ukrainian leaders to suspend efforts to sign free trade and association agreements with the European Union. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who survived a no-confidence vote this week, explained the decision was made to protect Russian economic interests.

The National News Agency of Ukraine reported Azarov warned an illegal effort was under way in Kiev to take control of the government. The uprising has been compared to the country's Orange Revolution in late 2004.

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The Russian prime minister said the hands-off stance was no reflection of the partnership with Kiev.

"Ukraine still remains a most important strategic partner for us, just as Russia remains such for Ukraine," he said.

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