Ukraine declares fugitive president wanted for ‘mass murder’

A new leader was sworn in after violent demonstrations forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the capital

Ukraine’s fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, has been declared wanted for “mass murder” days after dozens of protesters seeking his ouster were killed in the capital, Kiev.

The country’s parliament swore in an interim president on Sunday after Mr. Yanukovych fled the capital as demonstrators overrun his official residence and office.

Mr. Yanukovych has vowed not to step down as demanded by the protesters. But with a new leader in place, and elections scheduled for May, his tenure is all but over, analysts say.

Russia, the regime’s main backer, said Monday it had doubts about the legitimacy of the new administration. President Dmitry Medvedev called the new Ukrainian officials “mutineers”.

“The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts,” Mr. Medvedev was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

“Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise. This is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny.”

Ukraine’s foreign ministry responded to Mr Medvedev’s concerns for Russian citizens in Ukraine, saying they were “unfounded”, according to the BBC.

The United States, one of the strongest backers of the opposition, warned Moscow against military intervention in Ukraine, saying such a venture would be a “grave mistake”.

Interim Interior minister of Ukraine said the ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovich is wanted by police for mass murder.

“An official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened,” Arsen Avakov wrote on his profile. “Yanukovich and other people responsible for this have been declared wanted,” he said.

Viktor Yanukovich was in the autonomous largely pro-Russian region of Crimea late on Sunday, travelling by car to an unknown destination, Avakov said on his Facebook profile.

He added Yanukovich had left a private residence in Balaclava, Crimea, with an aide.

 

 

Uneasy calm returned to the capital, Kiev, Saturday after Mr. Yanukovych fled violent demonstrations that engulfed the city for weeks, climaxing with the release of his arch-rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. Demonstrators have however remained on the streets.

Mr. Yanukovych himself on Saturday denounced the protest as a coup d’état.

At least 88 people are believed to have died this week in Ukraine’s worst violence since the protest began November 2013.

Security forces and presidential guards said they were with the people, and put up no resistance as protesters overran the sprawling presidential palace on Saturday, and witnessed the opulence of their leader.

After the president’s departure, his nemesis and former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was released from a prison hospital, where she was serving a seven-year term for abuse of power.

Her release followed a vote by the parliament. Lawmakers also found the president unable to fulfill his duties and exercised their constitutional powers to set an election for May 25 to select his replacement.

Ms. Tymoshenko was jailed by Mr. Yanukovych after losing the presidential election in 2010.

Many within and outside Ukraine believe her conviction was politically motivated. She is expected to contest in the new election.

After her release, Ms. Tymoshenko urged opposition supporters in Kiev’s Independence Square to continue their protests.

“Until you finish this job… nobody has the right to leave,” Ms Tymoshenko, who has a back injury, said from a wheelchair.


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