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Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Will Attend Inauguration

Ukrainian businessman, politician and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko speaks during his news conference in Kyiv, May 26, 2014.
Petro Poroshenko
  • Born in 1965 in Bohlrad, near the southwestern city of Odessa
  • Known as the 'Chocolate King' for his ownership of the Roshen confectionery business
  • One of Ukraine's richest men, worth at least $1.3 billion
  • Served in parliament and as foreign minister and economic and development minister
  • Worked with both pro-Russian and pro-European political factions
  • Was a key figure in the 2004 Orange Revolution
  • Was first Ukrainian billionaire to support anti-government protests in 2013
  • Won 55% of the vote in 2014 presidential elections
Russia said on Thursday its ambassador to Kyiv would attend the inauguration of Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko in spite of Moscow's harsh criticism of Ukraine's attempts to crush pro-Russian separatists.

Scores of separatist fighters and Ukrainian troops have been killed in heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine as Kyiv has intensified its “anti-terrorist operation” since Poroshenko was elected on May 25.

“Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov will take part in the inauguration ceremony of Ukraine's elected president,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a briefing.

“He is returning to Kyiv to continue with his duties,” Lukashevich added, more than three months after the envoy was recalled to Moscow in response to the ouster of pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in mass protests.

It was unclear whether any other Russian officials would attend the inauguration ceremony on Saturday.

Moscow is at loggerheads with the West over Ukraine. Leaders of the world's top industrialized nations - meeting without Russia's Vladimir Putin - on Thursday threatened it with more sanctions over the crisis.

Russia denies accusations by Kyiv and the West that it supports and arms separatist rebels fighting in Ukraine's east. Ukraine says it could be doing much more to prevent fighters from crossing into the country, where Russian nationals have been seen in the separatists' ranks.

“The unfounded statements by the Ukrainian authorities that trucks with arms are crossing the border are cunning,” Lukashevich said.

“It is completely clear that it is an internal Ukrainian crisis and the responsibility of the Ukrainian authorities is absolutely obvious,” he added.