Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

Ukraine’s fugitive president wanted for mass murder

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (2nd R) visits a memorial for victims of last week’s clashes in Kiev Monday; (inset) a “Wanted” notice of fugitive President Victor Yanukovych. Reuters European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (2nd R) visits a memorial for victims of last week’s clashes in Kiev Monday; (inset) a “Wanted” notice of fugitive President Victor Yanukovych. Reuters
Reuters | Kiev | Posted: February 24, 2014 6:05 pm | Updated: February 25, 2014 12:47 am

Ukraine’s new authorities issued an arrest warrant Monday for mass murder against ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, who is on the run after being toppled by bloody street protests in which police snipers killed demonstrators.

Russia, Yanukovych’s main backer, said it would not deal with Ukrainians who seized power from their elected leader in an “armed mutiny”. It declared that Russian citizens’ lives were under threat there, and contacted NATO to express concern.

With Ukraine’s neighbours raising the alarm about a break-up of Ukraine, Moscow said the concerns of local leaders in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Russian-speaking bastions of electoral support for Yanukovich, must be taken into account.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton arrived in Kiev to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy, which the finance ministry said needs urgent financial assistance to avoid default.

The EU has contacted the United States, Japan, China, Canada and Turkey to coordinate aid for Ukraine, a senior EU official said. France’s foreign minister said an international donors’ conference was being discussed.

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and IMF chief Christine Lagarde agreed Ukraine would need bilateral and multilateral support for any reforms, a US Treasury official said. US Treasury officials will accompany Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on a trip to Kiev this week.

Ukraine’s parliament, exercising power as leaders try to form an interim government, replaced the head of the central bank, appointing lawmaker and former banker Stepan Kubiv.

Yanukovych, 63, who fled Kiev by helicopter on Friday, was still at large after heading first to his power base in the east, where he was prevented from flying out of the country, and then diverting south to the Crimea peninsula on the Black Sea, acting interior minister Arsen Avakov said.

“An official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened,” Avakov wrote on Facebook. “Yanukovych and other people responsible for this have been declared wanted.”

Yanukovych had left a private residence in Balaclava, near the home base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol, for an unknown destination, Avakov said. He went by car with one of his aides and a handful of security guards.

It was an ignominious political end for Yanukovich who has been publicly deserted by some of his closest erstwhile allies, stripped of his luxury residence near Kiev and had to witness the release from prison of his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko.

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