Tag Archives: Yanukovich

Yanukovich denies ouster, says ‘ashamed & guilty’ for not preventing chaos

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich takes part in a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don February 28, 2014.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich pledges to fight for Ukraine. He addressed a press conference in southern Russia, appearing in public for the first time since he fled Kiev amid bloody riots.

Dozens of international reporters have flocked to the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don after the fugitive Ukrainian president announced he would hold a press conference there.

Before anyone was allowed to ask questions, Yanukovich decided to set the record straight, saying he considers himself the only legitimate president of Ukraine.

“No one has ousted me,” he told reporters. “I had to leave Ukraine because of a direct threat to my life and the lives of my family.

It is the current Ukrainian parliament that is “not legitimate,” the Ukrainian leader said, adding that the people who took power in Kiev are “spreading the propaganda of violence.”

“As you know, the power in Ukraine has been seized by nationalist fascist-like fellows representing the absolute minority of Ukrainians. The only existing way out of the situation is fulfilling all that was stipulated in the [February 21] agreement between the president of Ukraine and the opposition with participation of the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland, and a representative of the Russian Federation,” Yanukovich said.

He described the situation in Ukraine as “complete lawlessness,” “terror” and “chaos”, saying that the politicians, including MPs, have been threatened and are facing threats of violence. It has nothing to do with the unity government that was negotiated with the opposition, he added.

According to Yanukovich, the early Ukrainian elections announced for May 25 are also completely “illegitimate” and he will not take part in them.

Despite that, the ousted leader said he will “remain in politics,” “keep on fighting for the future of Ukraine” and return to his home country as soon as he receives “international safety guarantees.”

‘Irresponsible politics of the West’

Yanukovich left Ukraine’s capital Kiev amid the worst surge of violence in the country’s post-Soviet history, which left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured. The pro-Maidan opposition immediately capitalized on his absence from the city, dominating the parliament, which then voted to strip the president of his powers and announced early elections. It also placed the full blame for the tragic events in central Kiev on Yanukovich, making it a nearly indisputable allegation in local and Western media.

Yanukovich gave his own clear assessment of the events for the first time in weeks, drawing a very different picture. The violence and deaths in Ukraine are the “result of the irresponsible politics of the West, which has encouraged Maidan,” Yanukovich said.

US and other Western countries’ representatives “must take full responsibility” for the fact that the agreement between the president and the opposition leaders was not honored, he said.

There remains, however, a chance for the country to change its course and not to slip into chaos, Yanukovich said.

‘I lacked strength, I am sorry’

When asked if he feels ashamed of any of his own actions, Yanukovich replied that he feels both ashamed and sorry for “not having been able to stabilize the situations and stop the mayhem” in Ukraine.

“I want to apologize to the Ukrainian people for what has happened in Ukraine and that I lacked strength to maintain stability,” he said.

Yanukovich also apologized to the Ukrainian riot police, Berkut, for having to “suffer” while doing their duty of maintaining peace and order. Police officers were “burned and poured over by petrol bombs,” were “fired at and killed by rifles” but still stood their ground, he said.

The Ukrainian leader then said he had not given any order for police to fire live rounds until the rioters started using firearms, putting the officers’ lives under threat.

Yanukovich refused to comment on the Ukrainian parliament’s intention to try him in the International Criminal Court, saying that an independent investigation has to be carried out first. However, he stressed that “the scenario of bloodshed… was drafted not in Ukraine.”

‘Crimea part of Ukraine, Russian presence a rumor’

Even as Yanukovich was speaking, the situation in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking Autonomous Republic of Crimea was increasingly getting out of the capital’s control. The Crimean parliament was forming a new regional government while local “self-defense squads” started actively patrolling strategic sites to prevent provocations from Ukrainian radical groups.

Yanukovich said he understands the concerns of Crimeans, who want to “protect their homes and families” from “bandits.”

However, he then urged the people of Crimea not to let any bloodshed or civil war happen. Crimea must remain a part of Ukraine while maintaining broad autonomy, Yanukovich said.

The fugitive president ruled out any possibility that he will ask Russia for military help to resolve the situation there. Also, there is no confirmed information about Russia’s alleged military presence in the region, Yanukovich said.

“I do not have any such official information,” he said. “I did not have it back then [in Ukraine], and there isn’t any now. This all has been on the level of some rumors spread by somebody,” he told journalists.

Yanukovich made it to Russia from Crimea thanks to “patriotically-minded officers,” who helped to “save his life.” He has not yet met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but they have already talked over the phone.

When asked why he chose to leave Ukraine for Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovich said that he has “an old friend there,” who can provide him with a “temporary safe haven.”

‘Russia cannot abandon Ukraine’

Yanukovich received a lot of questions on Russia’s role and possible actions in the Ukrainian crisis.

While saying “it is not correct” to tell Moscow what to do, Yanukovich said he believes “Russia cannot abandon Ukraine to its fate and should use all possible means to prevent chaos and terror in its neighboring country.”

With that, Yanukovich made it clear he was “categorically against any intervention into Ukraine and breach of its territorial integrity.”

“The truth will prevail,” Yanukovich said in an emotional conclusion to his comments to journalists, urging the politicians that have seized power in Kiev to “leave” for the sake of the Ukrainian people.

So far, there has been no indication that the new Ukrainian authorities are considering returning to a dialogue with what they consider an overthrown rival. A Kiev court on Friday issued an order for Yanukovich’s arrest, while the Ukrainian parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) earlier voted in favor of trying him at the ICC in The Hague for alleged “crimes against humanity during the recent peaceful protests.”

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Yanukovich in Russia, to hold press-conference in Rostov-on-Don Friday – source

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Viktor Yanukovich will hold a news conference in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don at 1700 local time (1300 GMT) on Friday, reports Itar-Tass citing sources close to Ukraine’s ousted president.

The site of the event will be announced later, the agency writes.

Yanukovich vanished over the weekend and his whereabouts have so far been unknown, with rumors claiming that he could have fled to Russia, or that he was still in Crimea.

He was reportedly last seen in Crimea.

The new Ukrainian authorities – who came to power following months of violent confrontation – put Yanukovich on an international wanted list on suspicion of involvement in mass killings during the riots in Kiev.

Dozens of people were killed in clashes between armed radical protesters and security forces.

On February 22, Ukrainian MPs voted to oust Yanukovich and hold a presidential vote on May 25.

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, held an emergency session and passed a law on the return to the 2004 constitution without the president’s approval, saying that the president had removed himself from power.

Yanukovich described the situation as a coup d’etat and said he was not going to resign, as he was a “legitimately elected president.”

On February 23, the parliament voted for its speaker, Aleksandr Turchinov, as acting president of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian leader fled Kiev at the end of the worst week of violence since protests began in November, when he refused to sign an association agreement with the EU.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general said that the president was still on the country’s soil, without giving any further details.

On Thursday Viktor Yanukovich made a statement that he still considered himself the legitimate leader of Ukraine and warned against an internal military conflict. He also asked Russia to ensure his safety against the actions of “extremists” that took power in Ukraine.

A source inside the Russian authorities told Itar-Tass news agency that his security had reportedly been ensured on Russian territory “in connection with the fact that President Yanukovich appealed to the Russian authorities”.

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Ukraine parliament votes to try ousted President Yanukovich & others in ICC

The Ukrainian parliament Verkhovna Rada has voted in favor of fugitive President Yanukovich being tried in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged “crimes against humanity during the recent peaceful protests.”

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Ex-Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka are among those whom the Rada wants to be tried in the ICC.

All are accused of “crimes against humanity during the peaceful protests in the period of November 30, 2013, and February 22, 2014.”

“During the period of three months the law enforcement agencies have been following the orders of the highest Ukrainian authorities. They used violence against the peaceful activists in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities,” said a Rada statement.

“Over 100 Ukrainian citizens have been killed and 2,000 injured as a result of such actions,” it added.

Three hundred and twenty-four MPs voted in favor of the resolution.

During the discussions the MPs also proposed to add the names of ex-deputy prime minister, ex-PM and ex-security council secretary. However the names were not approved by all the members of the Rada.

“The list will be extended with the names of those whose guilt is proven,” added Turchinov.

The Hague war crimes court didn’t confirm the information that Ukraine asked it to investigate the case of Yanukovich and other Ukrainian ex-ministers.

“A government can make a declaration accepting the court’s jurisdiction for past events,” said ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah, adding that the court’s prosecutor would decide whether or not to open an investigation.

The three-month political crisis in Ukraine escalated last Tuesday, with radical opposition activists and riot police engaged in two days of clashes in Ukraine capital, Kiev.

The central Ukrainian government collapsed under opposition pressure and President Yanukovich left the capital and de facto resigned his office. His whereabouts are still unknown.

On Sunday the new parliament voted to appoint its freshly-elected Speaker Aleksandr Turchinov as acting president of Ukraine.

The new regime immediately voted to strip Yanukovich of his powers, capitalizing on his absence from the capital, and voted for snap elections which are to be held on May 25.

A day later, on Monday, Rada put President Yanukovich on the wanted list on suspicion of involvement in mass killings during the riots in Kiev.

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, will next meet Thursday to discuss the formation of a national unity government – a debate originally scheduled for Tuesday.

“The vote on the national unity government should be on Thursday,” said interim President Aleksandr Turchinov, adding that forming the government is the top task needed to stabilize the situation in Ukraine.

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Yanukovich wanted over mass killings in Ukraine, whereabouts unknown

The new Ukrainian authorities have put missing, ousted, President Yanukovich on the wanted list on suspicion of involvement in mass killings during the riots in Kiev. He was reportedly last seen at his residence in Crimea.

The arrest warrant was issued on Monday, acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced on his Facebook page.

He added that Yanukovich was last seen on Sunday night leaving his security detail a private resort in Crimea in southern Ukraine.

In addition to Yanukovich, some other officials are now wanted in Ukraine, Avakov said, but did not name them.

The ousted Ukrainian leader had fled Kiev last week after days of deadly clashes between armed radical protesters and security forces.

He was believed to have visited the city of Kharkov on Saturday and later tried to leave the country, but failed when his plane was not allowed to take off by the border guards, who said it hadn’t filed the proper paperwork. His exact movements were unknown to the public.

But Avakov’s report details a suggested travel route that Yanukovich may have taken, which includes helicopter trips from Kiev to Kharkov and later from Kharkov to Donetsk, two failed attempts to leave that city on separate private jets, a motorcade transfer to a private Crimean resort and later to another one in Crimean Balaclava.

There he offered his bodyguards the choice either to go with him or stay. Those who stayed were issued official resignations of their governmental security detail, Avakov said.

Various reports on Sunday night and Monday claimed that Yanukovich had been arrested in Donetsk, hiding with a thousand-strong entourage in a monastery, was preparing his personal yacht to sail away through the Black Sea, or had been assassinated by foreign special services.

So far the rumor mill has not been accurate.

The opposition-controlled parliament earlier tried to impeach Yanukovich, but later decided not to follow procedure and simply declared him deposed on the grounds that he is not conducting his presidential duties.

His own Party of Regions blamed him for the killings in Kiev and the chaos that befell Ukraine.

Yanukovich’s downfall came after three months of mishandling the political crisis, during which he failed either to meet enough opposition demands to ensure the deflation of the tension or act decisively to restore public order.

As he avoided taking responsibility, the opposition forces became increasingly dominated by radical activists, who eventually resorted to violence against police to attain their goals.

The situation in Ukraine remains unstable, with reports of vigilantism on the ground, brewing secessionist sentiment in the predominantly-Russian east and south of the country, the paralysis of the national security service and a looming financial collapse.

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Footage purports to show Yanukovich escaping palace in helicopter

Grainy CCTV footage reportedly shows Ukrainian President Yanukovich leaving his suburban residence in a helicopter, just hours before he was ousted.

President’s whereabouts uncertain as opposition push for resignation

A picture of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich is seen on the ground in Kiev, February 21, 2014.

The whereabouts of Ukrainian President Yanukovich are unknown a day after he agreed to opposition demands. Parliament is trying to replace its resigned speaker to push for presidential resignation and an early election.

Ukraine remains chaotic amid the worst political crisis the country has seen in modern history. Viktor Yanukovich has gone missing, with even his immediate staff declining to say where he is.

The presidential residence in Kiev has been abandoned and left virtually unguarded. Some media reports said on Friday that the residents had packed up and left.

Some media reports suggest that Yanukovich is in Kharkov, a city in Eastern Ukraine, which is a stronghold of his Party of Regions. The president is supposedly going to take part in a summit of members of regional parliaments from Eastern and Southern Ukraine. The emergency gathering will be discussing the ongoing crisis and the strategy the Euromaidan-skeptical regions will follow after the opposition gains in Kiev and in the west of the country.

Neither presidential staff nor local authorities in Kharkov confirmed Yanukovich’s visit. The local airport said the presidential plane had not landed there.

Meanwhile in Kiev, the Ukrainian Parliament gathered for a new emergency session. The session started with an announcement that Speaker Vladimir Rybak and First Deputy Speaker Igor Kaletnik have both resigned.

Protesters gather outside the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev February 22, 2014.

The Party of Regions faction in the parliament lost eight more members on Saturday, as MPs rushed to abandon the sinking ruling coalition. Over the past few days, a total of 34 parliamentarians announced they were parting ways with Yanukovich’s government.

Opposition parties are pushing for adoption of a resolution demanding that Yanukovich resigns the office of the president. If he submits, Ukraine would have to hold early an presidential election by May 25.

Due to the president’s absence, the bills passed by the parliament on Friday have not been passed into law from a technical point of view, because Yanukovich never signed them. Opposition leader, Arseny Yatsenyuk, told fellow MPs that this gives grounds for the president’s resignation.

The bills, previously agreed to by the president and opposition leaders, include a constitutional reform, which strips the presidential office of a lot of power in favor of the parliament, forming a national unity government and holding early parliamentary election.

The opposition-dominated parliament is also seeking Yanukovich’s impeachment and a criminal code reform, which would annul the sentence of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko, currently serving a prison term for overstepping her authority in signing an unfavorably gas deal with Russia, is one of the most adamant critics of the president. During the three months of the confrontation, she called on her supporters to put more pressure on Yanukovich and force him out of power.

On the ground the governmental area of Kiev is under complete opposition control. In a sharp contrast to the deadly confrontation of just days before, there is no police presence in the center of the capital. Opposition fighters are calling on police officers to join their ranks and patrol the streets as members of the “Maidan self-defense force.”

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