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Luzhkov to join celebrations of Yanukovych’s 60th birthday

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July 9, 2010, 10:16 a.m. | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to congratulate Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov will travel to Kyiv on Friday evening to congratulate Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych on his 60th birthday, a source in the Moscow authorities told Interfax. "This is going to be Luzhkov's first visit to Ukraine since the ban on his entry of Ukraine was lifted," he said.

Luzhkov confirmed in early June that he was free to visit Ukraine now. "We talked recently with President Viktor Yanukovych, who assured me that I am no longer a persona non grata," Luzhkov told Interfax then.

The Moscow mayor said in Sevastopol on May 11 2008 that Sevastopol, as a Soviet and Russian naval base, had never been handed over to Ukraine and must be returned to Russia. In response, the Ukrainian National Security Service denied entry of Ukraine to Luzhkov, while the then president, Viktor Yuschenko, condemned his statement.

Ukraine's angry reaction surprised the Russian Foreign Ministry, which described it as inappropriate and unfriendly.

Russian Senator Oleg Tolkachev, representing Moscow, said that, "the orange authorities, led by Yuschenko, were awfully scared" by Luzhkov's statement.

On May 29, 2010 public organizations in Sevastopol and Moscow urged Yanukovych, at the initiative of the Sevastopol Patriots Association, to lift the ban on Luzhkov's travel to Ukraine. Their request was granted.
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