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'Arrest warrant issued' for Ukraine's Yanukovich

© afp

Video by Gulliver CRAGG

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-24

An arrest warrant has been issued for Ukraine's deposed president Viktor Yanukovich for mass murder in connection with the deaths of anti-government protesters, the acting interior minister said Monday on his Facebook profile.

"An official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened," acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote.

"Yanukovich and other people responsible for this have been declared wanted," he said.

Avakov added that Yanukovich had left a private residence in Balaclava, Crimea, along with an aide on Monday.

The ousted leader's whereabouts remained a mystery over the weekend after he left the capital, Kiev, on Saturday.

A day after Yanukovich fled, parliament named its new speaker, Oleksandr Turchinov, as interim head of state. Turchinov has vowed to swear in a government by Tuesday that can provide authority until a new presidential election is held on May 25.

With pro-EU protesters in control of central Kiev and the country’s parliament, lawmakers pushed through decisions to cement their power and bring to account those who ordered police to fire on Independence Square, where 82 people died in clashes last week.

But whoever takes charge next in Ukraine faces a huge challenge to satisfy high popular expectations and will be forced to contend with an economy in deep crisis.

Ukraine’s interim leadership has pledged to put the country back on course toward European integration now that its pro-Russian president has been ousted, with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton due in Ukraine on Monday.

EU officials have already offered financial aid to the new government and to revive the trade deal that Yanukovich spurned under Russian pressure in November, sparking the protests that drove him from office.

The United States has also promised help. US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew encouraged Ukraine at the weekend to begin discussions with the International Monetary Fund on an assistance package as soon as a transitional government is in place in Kiev.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

 

Date created : 2014-02-24

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