Nation/World

President who fled implores Putin to act on Ukraine

Ukraine’s fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych gives a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia about 600 miles from Moscow. (Associated Press)
Ukraine’s fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych gives a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia about 600 miles from Moscow. (Associated Press)

MOSCOW – Ukraine’s deposed President Viktor Yanukovych on Friday declared himself still the legitimate leader of his divided country and said his Russian allies in the Kremlin “should and must act” to put an end to the political chaos.

“Knowing the character of (Russian President) Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, I am surprised that he is until now so restrained and silent” on the subject of intervening to bring calm to Ukraine, Yanukovych said at a news conference in southern Russia carried live nationwide on Russia-24 television.

At the packed gathering in Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovych said he had not met with Putin since being granted refuge in Russia this week after appealing to Moscow to protect him from what he termed the “nationalist and fascist thugs” who have taken power in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

Yanukovych blamed the disorder and communal clashes in eastern Ukraine, in particular in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Crimea, on Western diplomats who brokered an agreement to quell violence in Kiev last week, saying they had failed to hold the opposition forces now running the Ukrainian government to the letter of the pact. He accused European Union and U.S. diplomats of encouraging the three-month revolt against him, saying the crisis wracking the country “was not scripted in Ukraine.”

Instead of ensuring that all arms were laid down at the violent epicenter of the confrontation on Independence Square, known as Maidan, “Kiev was flooded with people carrying weapons who started breaking into houses and churches, inflicting suffering on absolutely innocent people who were robbed and beaten up,” he said. “This is going on now.”

The European Union mediators who brokered the Feb. 21 settlement after at least 82 people were killed last week failed to compel the opposition to keep to a timetable of first enacting constitutional changes, then organizing early presidential elections by the end of this year, he contended.

Yanukovych loyalists in parliament defected in droves after the deadly crackdown by special forces who fired on demonstrators. The opposition-led parliament then voted to oust Yanukovych as president, appoint former speaker Oleksandr Turchynov as interim president, set a May 25 presidential election and disband the Berkat special police unit that had clashed with protesters.



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