Yushchenko to be sworn in as Ukraine president

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KIEV (AFP) - Viktor Yushchenko was set to be sworn in as president of Ukraine Sunday, capping months of turmoil in the key ex-Soviet nation which he now intends to set on a firm pro-Western course.

The 50-year-old former central banker will take the oath of office at noon (1000 GMT) inside parliament, followed by an address to supporters in Kiev's central Independence Square, the epicenter of the "orange revolution" that he rode to power.

His inauguration will end months of political turmoil and uncertainty that roiled this nation and sparked Cold War-like exchanges between neighboring Russia and the West during a vicious election campaign that saw him nearly die from a poison attempt.

Yushchenko will become the third president of an independent Ukraine, taking over from a decade of authoritarian-leaning rule by Leonid Kuchma. He has promised to turn the nation, under Russian influence for centuries, towards Europe.

"I am certain that soon the world will see a new Ukraine, with a new people and a new government," Yushchenko told US President George W. Bush in a phone call on Saturday.

Sunday's ceremony will be rich in symbols of Ukraine's new path, including a standard of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, who led an independence drive from Polish domination in the 17th century, that was brought in especially for the occasion from a Swedish museum.

Outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell and NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer were among an array of foreign dignitaries here to attend the ceremonies.

Also on the guest list are Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a key foreign mediator during the "orange revolution" protests, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who provided support as head of the EU presidency, and Romanian President Traian Basescu, who won office after adopting the orange color of Yushchenko's campaign.

Sunday's ceremonies mark a personal triumph for Yushchenko, whose face was horribly disfigured by what doctors later said was deliberate poisoning with dioxin in September, at the beginning of the marathon election campaign.

The campaign saw Yushchenko stand off against Kuchma's regime over a now-discredited November run-off ballot, which was officially won by his pro-Russia rival Viktor Yanukovich but was later thrown out by the supreme court because of massive fraud.

The "orange revolution" demonstrations touched off an unexpected tidal wave of popular support and echoed on the world stage as Moscow backed Yanukovich while Brussels and Washington lined up behind Yushchenko.

They also marked the second year in a row that a pro-Western leader headed popular protests that swept aside a Russia-friendly regime in a former Soviet republic, after a "rose revolution" in Georgia in late 2003.

Soothing frazzled nerves in a furious and humiliated Russia, Ukraine's largest trading partner and key energy provider, will be among the most urging tasks facing Yushchenko's administration.

With that in mind, he will begin his presidency with a visit to Moscow on Monday for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

On Tuesday, he will kick off a four-day European coming-out party that will include addresses in front of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament and chats with the world's leading powerbrokers at the annual economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Mid-week, Yushchenko will also attend ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, where his father was a prisoner-of-war.

Yushchenko faces the stiff task of instituting economic and social reforms in Ukraine, which has been riddled by corruption in the 13 years of independence from the Soviet Union.

He has promised to announce the tea


That looks more like a girl. :unsure:

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One of the few up sides to democracy I have seen in a while, even thouh it took a large campaign behind the scenes sponsored by european contries to make it happen.

Yushchenko should make a big difference, and I bet Putin is pi*sed off!

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