Hours after opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych was officially declared winner in the presidential race in Ukraine, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev invited him to visit Moscow to put back on track bilateral ties that badly soured under outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko.

In a congratulatory message to Mr. Yanukovych sent on Monday, Mr. Medvedev said the election showed that Ukrainians “want to put an end to historically doomed attempts to sow discord between the people of our countries”.

The Russian leader expressed the hope that relations with Ukraine would “again acquire constructive and fruitful character of genuine partnership”.

Ukraine’s Central Election Commission on Sunday formally declared Mr. Yanukovych President-elect, clearing the way for his inauguration that will take place on February 25. In the February 7 runoff Mr. Yanukovych beat his rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko with a margin of 3.5 per cent.

Mr. Yanukovych is yet to decide whether his first visit would be to Moscow or Brussels. He frankly said his choice would be for a country that can offer a “quick solution to problems facing Ukraine”. Five years after the U.S.-orchestrated “orange revolution” Ukraine is practically broke, with the sovereign debt standing at $100 billion.

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