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Experts Say Russia Unlikely to Ease Up on Ukraine After Vote

Published: May 26, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • A voter showing off his passport before he casts a ballot in the Ukrainian presidential election in Moscow on Sunday.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

As Ukrainians cast their votes for a new president on Sunday, analysts said the election was unlikely to fully stabilize the situation in the strife-ridden nation — partly because it would be in Moscow's best interest to keep its smaller neighbor mired in conflict.

"Instability in Ukraine is a very handy tool for Russia, and I do not think Moscow will give it up," Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank told The St. Petersburg Times.

Moscow's tentative acknowledgement of Sunday's snap presidential vote in Ukraine is a tactical move and not a shift toward long-term deescalation, analysts said ahead of Sunday's vote.

Last week, Russia shifted inland the troops it had previously amassed on its border with Ukraine.

The move was partially confirmed by the Pentagon, unlike previous reports of a pullout.

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the withdrawal was intended to create "favorable conditions for Ukraine's presidential vote," an apparent indication that Moscow wanted the elections to go smoothly.

He tapered his words, however, adding that "it will be very hard for us to work with people who come to power against the backdrop of a punitive operation in southeastern Ukraine."

On Friday, he said Russia was nevertheless ready to work with newly elected Ukrainian authorities.

Experts agreed that the Kremlin's softened policy was simply a reaction to the West's direct threat to ramp up economic sanctions if Russia disrupted the Ukrainian polls.

The Russian government will continue to stir up trouble in Ukraine in order to prevent the weakened country from turning to the West, analysts said.

Twenty-one candidates competed in the Ukrainian vote, but there are no pro-Russian candidates among the favorites.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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