Ukrainian law enforcement agencies said on Monday they have no information about the whereabouts of President Viktor Yanukovych, who reportedly was seen in Sevastopol, a port on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula that is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. After signing an agreement with the opposition to end a conflict that turned deadly, Yanukovych fled the capital for eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s border service said he tried to fly out of the country on Saturday from Donetsk, but was stopped by their officials.
Meanwhile, the BBC has reported that Ukraine’s interim interior minister has issued an arrest warrant for the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Opposition lawmaker Volodym Kurennoy said on his Facebook page that he had unconfirmed information that the president had been arrested in Crimea. Ukrainain news portal Liga.net reports that Sevastopol residents saw Yanukovych in the company of Russian marines. The claim could not be independently verified. Spokespersons for the regional and national Interior Ministry and Security Service said today they had no such information.
Yanukovych set off a wave of protests by shelving an agreement with the EU in November and turning toward Russia, and the movement quickly expanded its grievances to corruption, human rights abuses and calls for Yanukovych’s resignation. The speaker of parliament assumed the president’s powers yesterday, but a presidential aide told the AP yesterday that Yanukovych plans to stay in power.
Tensions have been mounting in Crimea, where pro-Russian politicians are organising rallies and forming protest units and have been demanding autonomy from Kiev. Russia maintains a big naval base in Crimea that has tangled relations between the countries for two decades.