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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

United Russia Will Advise Yanukovych

APViktor Yanukovych
United Russia has agreed to advise Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections next year.

United Russia and the Party of Regions will share information in areas such as "participating in elections" and "party building" and consult with each other about bilateral relations, according to an agreement signed on July 2 in Kiev, a copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times.

United Russia signed the agreement because the Party of Regions is "Ukraine's most influential and authoritative political force, which consistently promotes the development of strategic relationships, an alliance and partnership with Russia," Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of State Duma's Committee for International Affairs and a United Russia member, said in a statement.

The statement appeared to be a dig at pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko, who defeated the Kremlin-backed former Prime Minister Yanukovych in last year's presidential election.

Yanukovych said in a statement that the agreement with United Russia was necessary because his party was concerned about "many unresolved issues" that could lead to a confrontation between Ukraine and Russia.

The March vote is significant because the next parliament, not the president, will choose the prime minister. The Party of Regions boasts more than 700,000 members.

Russian and Ukrainian political analysts expressed doubt that the new alliance would find success.

"United Russia itself survives on the Kremlin's advice. It can hardly advise something," said Vadim Karasyov, the head of the Kiev-based Institute of Global Strategies.

Yury Korgunyuk, an expert at the Indem think tank, agreed, saying United Russia was too dependent on the authorities to help Yanukovych build an opposition to Yushchenko. "What can it share? The use of administrative resources?" he said.

By signing the agreement, United Russia is trying to "pretend to be a real party" and to keep its functionaries busy, Korgunyk said.

Konstantin Bondarenko, director of the Ukrainian office of Moscow's Institute of National Strategy, a think tank, predicted that United Russia's support would do Yanukovych little good in the vote.

"Yanukovych still believes in the omnipotence of Russian electoral techniques, despite the fact that he got burned once by those techniques," he said.

State-controlled Russian news media, whose broadcasts cover Ukraine, provided lavish coverage of Yanukovych's presidential campaign.

Ukrainians, however, now place more trust in domestic news media than in Russian media, Bondarenko said.

Karasyov said the notion of cooperation with Russia remained popular among Ukrainians, and that a show of support on Russian television could be an option. "Many people in Ukraine, especially eastern Ukraine, look toward the Kremlin. Support from United Russia will show that Yanukovych's party is an influential and respectable force," he said.