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Freed Tymoshenko honours Ukraine’s protest ‘heroes’

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-23

Ukraine's opposition leader and former PM Yulia Tymoshenko honoured the victims of Independence Square after being freed on Saturday, calling the protesters “heroes”. Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years on abuse-of-power charges in 2011.

* During a dramatic emergency parliamentary session on Saturday, parliament voted to release Tymoshenko, 53, from the hospital where she had been under prison guard.

* Tymoshenko immediately travelled to Kiev and spoke on Independence Square, addressing thousands of people from her wheelchair. During an emotional speech, she paid homage to the protesters killed in the demonstrations and urged the opposition to continue fighting.

* Ukraine’s parliament declared President Viktor Yanukovich constitutionally unable to carry out his duties and set an early election for May 25. Yanukovich denounced Saturday’s dramatic events in Kiev, calling it a “coup d’état” and refused to accept parliament’s authority.

* Ukraine’s parliamentary speaker said that Yanukovich had tried to board a plane to Russia but had been prevented from doing so by border officials while other reports indicated that he might be at his home in the eastern city of Donetsk. In a televised interview on Saturday, Yanukovich refused to step down. "I am not leaving the country for anywhere," he said. "I do not intend to resign. I am the legitimately elected president."

* Parliament voted Sunday to give temporary presidential powers to Speaker Oleksandr Turchinov.

* Opposition supporters had seized control of the unguarded presidential office in Kiev earlier on Saturday.

* Lawmakers also voted in Oleksandr Turchynov – a close ally of Tymoshenko's – as parliamentary speaker and opposition lawmaker Arsen Avakov to serve as interior minister until a new coalition government is formed.

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Date created : 2014-02-22

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