By Emil Danielyan
Presidential Robert Kocharian formally recognized the hard-won victory of Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine’s dramatic presidential elections on Tuesday, less than three months after sending a congratulatory message to his pro-Russian rival.
Kocharian, according to his office, congratulated Yushchenko, expressing hope that relations between Armenia and Ukraine will strengthen during his presidency.
The Armenian leader had sent a virtually identical letter to Viktor Yanukovich, Yushchenko’s challenger and Ukraine’s former prime minister controversially declared the winner of the November 21 second round of voting. The ballot was subsequently declared fraudulent and invalidated by Ukraine’s Supreme Court amid massive protests staged by Yushchenko supporters.
Armenia and Russia were the sole members of the Council of Europe to have accepted Yanukovich’s victory. Official Yerevan says it was guided by decisions made by Ukraine’s Central Election Commission.
However, many Armenian observers believe that Kocharian’s congratulations extended to the Kremlin-backed candidate were induced by the Russian leadership.