Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, who is ahead in opinion polls to become next president, said he would seek a compromise with the IMF to unlock a $16.4 billion bailout.

Payments on the loan were frozen by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund after the government failed to adopt the 2010 budget and cut spending. The money is needed to finance the budget and pay for Russian natural-gas imports, which amount to more than 50 percent of Ukraine’s total gas needs, Bloomberg reported.

“We will find such a program that will suit both the IMF and Ukraine,” said Yanukovych in an interview during a campaign stop in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. “We have an obligation to resume the cooperation. We will work with the IMF and we will find the answers to all the questions.”

Yanukovych is campaigning this time around to balance relations with Russia to the east as the country strives to join the European Union. The EU delayed a so- called Association Agreement, which includes a trade pact, as the country’s political stalemate hampered fiscal, economic and legal reforms.

Yanukovych said he would favor signing the EU agreement later this year, one of Yushchenko’s key political goals.

“For Ukraine, it is very important to have a European perspective,” he said. “The most important thing is to create a real mechanism for real integration into the EU” including visa-free travel, which would “help Ukraine in the process.”


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