Friday, December 20, 2013

Yanukovich Defends Russian Bond/Gas Deal

A $15 billion Russian aid package for Ukraine began to take shape on Thursday as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich went public in defense of the deal, but offered no concessions to persuade thousands of protesters to leave the streets.

In his first public appearance since agreeing the deal with Moscow, he argued that securing cheaper gas and credits from Russia had been the only way to avoid default.

Soon after, his government issued a $3 billion two-year eurobond whose terms corresponded exactly to those of a bond that Russia had said it would buy as part of a $15 billion lifeline to help its former Soviet ally out of economic crisis.

But, in a televised news conference lasting more than 1-1/2 hours, he showed no readiness to meet opposition leaders' demands for the resignation of his government or early elections. He said their actions were "revolutionary".

His only slightly conciliatory gesture was to say that he would not run for re-election in 2015 if he felt he might lose.

"If my ratings are low and I have no prospects (of winning), then I shall not get in the way of the country developing and moving forward," he told a questioner.

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