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Ukraine heads back into the arms of Mother Russia

Despite a dispute over fraud allegations in the wake of Sunday's presidential vote in Ukraine, pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich is set to become the next president in what will be a dramatic shift back to pro-Kremlin policies.

A supporter of presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovich attends a rally in front of Ukraine's central electoral commission in Kiev Tuesday.

Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters

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The almost certain return of pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovich as Ukraine's president, five years after he was rejected by the country in the Orange Revolution, will be quietly savored in the Kremlin as another victory in Russia's ongoing contest with the West for dominance on the chessboard of the former Soviet Union.

Not so long ago it looked like Russia itself might be engulfed by the wave of pro-democracy upheavals, dubbed "colored revolutions," that swept over post-Soviet states Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. But after years of patient economic and political ground work and one war -- against Georgia in 2008 -- Moscow now appears headed for undisputed sway over the former Soviet region that President Dmitri Medvedev calls Russia's "sphere of influence."

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