Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Ukraine on Monday for a two—day working visit devoted to talks on aerospace and energy.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstyantyn Hryshchenko led a high—level delegation to meet the Russian leader at Kiev’s Boryspil airport.

Mr. Medvedev was scheduled to have one—on—one talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, and to lead jointly with Mr. Yanukovych a meeting of the Russia—Ukrainian Commission, an inter—governmental working group aimed at increased technical cooperation between Moscow and Kiev.

Around 100 protesters demonstrated against the Medvedev visit in central Kiev, some carrying posters reading “Down with Russian occupiers!” and “The ex—con is a puppet for the Moscow dwarves!” The latter was a reference to jail time served by Mr. Yanukovych on assault and robbery charges in the late 1960s.

Police presence was small and the demonstration was peaceful.

Relations between the Kremlin and Kiev have improved dramatically since Mr. Yanukovych, a supporter of closer relations with Russia, became Ukraine’s leader. The two leaders were meeting for the seventh time since Mr. Yanukovych’s February election.

The nationalist wing of Ukrainian politics opposes Mr. Yanukovych’s overtures to Russia, seen by them as a long—time oppressor of Ukrainian independence.

Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Yanukovych were likely by Tuesday evening to sign agreements for mutual use of the Russian satellite navigation system GLONASS and for aerospace cooperation as well, the Interfax news agency reported.

The two leaders will also discuss border demarcation, the status of Moldova’s renegade Transnistria province and the unrest in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, Russia government spokesman Sergei Naryshkin told reporters at the Kiev airport.

A merger between the Russian energy giant Gazprom and the Ukrainian state—owned energy company Ukrnafta was not on the immediate agenda, but “it would be discussed ... this issue requires extremely serious work,” Mr. Naryshkin said.

Mr. Yanukovych, a pro—big—business politician hailing from Ukraine’s ethnically—Russian Donetsk province, opposes closer relations with NATO.

Kiev and Moscow agreed in April to extend until 2042 Russia’s lease on naval installations at the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

Ukrainian nationalists criticised the move as undermining Ukrainian national sovereignty, but Yanukovych administration officials said the treaty was necessary for peaceful and friendly relations with the Kremlin.

Keywords: Diplomatic visit

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