Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized calls for a repeat of Ukraine's disputed presidential election.

The Russian leader made the comment in a meeting today (Thursday) with Ukraine's outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma. The talks outside Moscow were only announced shortly before they took place.

Mr. Putin says a re-vote would serve no purpose, and the solution to the crisis ultimately rests in the people of Ukraine.

In Washington, President Bush said any new vote in Ukraine must be free from foreign influence and reflect the will of the people.

The European Parliament has called on Ukraine to rerun the country's disputed presidential run-off election.

In a resolution adopted today (Thursday), the assembly called for the vote to be held this month and include international observers.

It also called on EU governments to make it clear to Ukraine that violence against peaceful demonstrators will not be tolerated, and sanctions will be imposed if such actions occur.

The parliament also rejected criticism from Russia that the European Union is encouraging violence in Ukraine by trying to resolve the crisis.

The assembly has sent a delegation to Ukraine for mediation efforts.

Also today, Uzbek President Islam Karimov accused Russia of having excessive interest in a certain election outcome, presumably its backing for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Supreme Court has begun hearing final arguments on opposition claims of electoral fraud in favor of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. The opposition wants the court to overturn the results of the November 21st ballot.

Officials declared the pro-Russian prime minister the winner, prompting mass protests by supporters of the Western-leaning opposition leader Victor Yushchenko.