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Half-empty chamber greets Ukraine’s new president

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - New Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych vowed Thursday to create "a European state outside of any bloc," but the crippling lack of consensus in his government was clear in the half-empty hall during his inaugural address.

His short, unemotional speech showed a determination to save the economy and preserve ties with the West forged by the outgoing leadership. But his more specific pledges have suggested a turn back toward Russia in energy policy and military cooperation, policies that threaten to further polarize the nation.

Yanukovych took the oath of office in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, receiving a ceremonial scepter that he raised in triumph over the deputies in attendance.

But members of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s party snubbed the event.

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