Putin watches ice hockey as chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko declares Ukraine vote win

  • AFP, Minsk
  • Updated: May 26, 2014 01:30 IST

Russian president Vladimir Putin had no immediate reaction to the presidential vote in Ukraine on Sunday, instead focusing on an ice hockey game featuring the Russian team in Belarus.

As Western-friendly chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko claimed victory in the crucial election, Putin was in Minsk to watch Russia face off with Finland in the final of the world ice hockey championships.

"The head of state wanted to personally support the Russian team playing in the final of the world hockey championships," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

Putin could be seen at the game sitting between Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko and the leader of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.

Putin had said Friday he was ready to work with new authorities in Kiev, after months of crisis that have brought Moscow's ties with the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.

"We understand that the people of Ukraine want their country to emerge from this crisis. We will treat their choice with respect," Putin had said.

Putin has not explicitly said whether Russia will recognise the results of Sunday's vote, seen as key to dragging Ukraine out of its worst crisis since independence.

Poroshenko, who exit polls said had won almost 56% of the vote, swiftly declared he would work to bring peace to Ukraine after months of turmoil including Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March and a deadly pro-Russian insurgency in the east.

Boxing champ Klitschko 'wins Kiev mayor bout'
Ukrainian boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has won the election for mayor of Kiev, the country's likely new president said. "I can say with confidence that according to our information Vitali Klitschko will be the new mayor of Kiev," Poroshenko said after declaring his own victory in the presidential election.

"I congratulate him," he said at a press conference alongside Klitschko. The burly 42-year-old heavyweight boxer turned opposition hero had been in the running for the presidency but dropped out of the race in March to support Poroshenko. Mayoral elections were held in several cities on Sunday in tandem with the presidential ballot.

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