Last weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich visited Kiev’s Monastery of Caves and participated in the Baptism of Rus 1,025th anniversary celebrations. On Sunday, the two leaders took part in Navy Day of Russia celebrations jointly with the Navy Day of Ukraine for the second year in a row.
Russia’s President came back from religion to economy at a conference titled “Orthodox Slavic values as foundations for a civilized choice of Ukraine”, which organized the Ukrainian Choice Party. “In a tough competitive struggle on global markets we can win only by pooling our efforts,” the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily quoted Putin as saying. Russia will respect any choice of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian state over its profound participation in integration processes on the post-Soviet space, Putin pledged and cited the figures, which, in his words, speak for themselves. In the first quarter of the year trade volume with Ukraine dropped by more than 17%, but the countries of the Customs Union posted a trade growth of already 2-3%. “We report a constant growth,” he explained and recalled about a close industrial cooperation.
The meeting between Putin and Yanukovich in the Ukrainian presidential administration was strangely cool, according to the daily. When entering the room for negotiations, they even did not shake hands in public.
The presidents of the countries met six times in the previous year, and this is their third meeting this year, the Vedomosti daily cited the Kremlin press service as saying.
However, Ukraine has signed only a memorandum on status of observer in the Customs Union, and Yanukovich still hopes to sign an association agreement with the EU, the newspaper said in conclusion.
The 1,025th Baptism of Rus anniversary became for the two leaders a reason for propagating Ukraine to join the Customs Union with Russia, as well as for manifestation of independence from eastern neighboring country on historical basis, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported.
The appeal to religion, as the celebrations in Ukraine showed, rather becomes a reason for demonstrating the political doctrines, the daily believes. On July 26, Yanukovich stated at the opening of Baptism of Rus anniversary celebrations that he “will prevent the Churches from being used by some political forces in their narrow interests,” adding, “This also concerns foreign centers, which are seeking sometimes to influence the domestic political situation in Ukraine through religious organizations.”
The very wordings linked with the essence of the holiday, which was already proposed to be made a public holiday, also sound like tacit debates between the two countries’ leaders, the daily reported.
“All of us are spiritual descendants of the events that happened 1,025 years ago,” Putin said at a meeting with the church hierarchs. “In this respect, we are certainly one nation,” Putin underlined. Whereas Yanukovich stated that the adoption of Christianity in 988 “has brought Ukrainian Rus on a new level and has given a strong impetus for Ukrainian culture development.”