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Russia, diplomatically, names Yushchenko on Kiev envoy's papers

© Сollage by RIA NovostiMikhail Zurabov
Mikhail Zurabov  - Sputnik International
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Russia bowed to diplomatic convention and addressed the credentials of its new ambassador to Kiev to Ukraine's current president, but Moscow expects a new, friendlier leader to be in office to receive the papers, a Kremlin source said.

Russia bowed to diplomatic convention and addressed the credentials of its new ambassador to Kiev to Ukraine's current president, but Moscow expects a new, friendlier leader to be in office to receive the papers, a Kremlin source said.

Russian Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov arrived in Kiev on Monday and presented his credentials to the Foreign Ministry. Reports on Friday said he was set to spark a diplomatic row by leaving the outgoing president's name off the documents.

President Dmitry Medvedev appointed Zurabov last August but delayed sending him to Kiev over what he called unfriendly policies pursued by his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yushchenko.

Respected Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Friday that the Ukrainian presidential administration was set to advise the Foreign Ministry against accepting Zurabov's credentials, with the Ukrainian president's name reportedly omitted from the diplomatic documents.

"In line with protocol, the credentials have been presented to the Foreign Ministry. The credentials are addressed to President Yushchenko," a Kremlin source told RIA Novosti on Monday.

However, the unidentified Kremlin official said Moscow expected that Zurabov would present his diplomatic papers to the next president of Ukraine, who will be elected on February 7.

Yushchenko received just 5% of the vote in the January 17 elections. Opposition Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko received 35.34% and 25.04%, respectively, and will face each other in the runoff.

After the first round confirmed that Ukraine would have a new president, Medvedev ordered Zurabov to formally assume his position in Kiev.

Both candidates have pledged to improve relations with Moscow, which have soured in recent years, as Yushchenko sought to distance Ukraine from Russia, pushing the country's attempts to join NATO and the European Union. Moscow and Kiev have also been embroiled in bitter disputes over natural gas supplies and Russia's war with Georgia in August 2008.

KIEV, January 25 (RIA Novosti) 

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