World Digest: Ukraine's new president vows to restore political stability

Friday, February 26, 2010



New president vows to restore stability

With the prime minister and much of parliament still refusing to recognize his election, Viktor Yanukovych was sworn in as Ukraine's fourth president Thursday and pledged to restore political stability in the divided nation while positioning it as a "European state outside any bloc."

Yanukovych, the Kremlin ally whose presidential bid was thwarted in the Orange Revolution five years ago, vowed to rescue an economy on the brink of collapse. He also signaled a departure from the pro-West policies that have infuriated the Kremlin, promising to balance Ukraine's ties with Russia and the United States.

But in a hint of the difficulties he faces, lawmakers in Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party boycotted the inaugural ceremony. Defeated in the Feb. 7 election, Tymoshenko alleges voting fraud but dropped a legal challenge last week, saying that Yanukovych controls the courts.

Yanukovych is trying to oust Tymoshenko as prime minister but has struggled to form a ruling coalition.

-- Philip P. Pan


Rebel chief allegedly tells of U.S. aid offer

Sunni Muslim rebel leader Abdul Malik Rigi, arrested Tuesday by Iran, said the United States had offered to provide him with a base, cash and weapons, according to Iranian state television, which showed him purportedly making the admissions.

Iranian authorities said Rigi's group, Jundallah, was responsible for several deadly attacks in southeastern Iran and is backed by the United States. They said he was provided with an Afghan passport and had been at a U.S. base in Afghanistan 24 hours before the arrest.

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