Putin watches hockey as tycoon declares Ukraine vote win

Russian President Vladimir Putin had no immediate reaction to the presidential vote in Ukraine Sunday, instead focusing on an ice hockey game featuring the Russian team in Belarus.

AFP| Last Updated: May 26, 2014, 02:08 AM IST

Minsk (Belarus): Russian President Vladimir Putin had no immediate reaction to the presidential vote in Ukraine Sunday, instead focusing on an ice hockey game featuring the Russian team in Belarus.

As Western-friendly chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko claimed victory in the crucial election, Putin was in Minsk to watch Russia face off with Finland in the final of the world ice hockey championships.

"The head of state wanted to personally support the Russian team playing in the final of the world hockey championships," Putin`s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
Putin could be seen at the game sitting between Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko and the leader of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.
Putin had said Friday he was ready to work with new authorities in Kiev, after months of crisis that have brought Moscow`s ties with the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.

"We understand that the people of Ukraine want their country to emerge from this crisis. We will treat their choice with respect," Putin had said.

Putin has not explicitly said whether Russia will recognise the results of today`s vote, seen as key to dragging Ukraine out of its worst crisis since independence.

Poroshenko, who exit polls said had won almost 56 per cent of the vote, swiftly declared that he would work to bring peace to Ukraine after months of turmoil including Moscow`s annexation of Crimea in March and a deadly pro-Russian insurgency in the east.