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Europe

Ukrainian parliament votes to drag Yanukovich before ICC

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-25

Ukraine’s parliament approved a measure on Tuesday to send deposed president Viktor Yanukovich to the International Criminal Court for trial as political uncertainty continued to reign over the country.

A resolution overwhelmingly supported by the lawmakers said Yanukovich should face charges linked to the death of dozens of civilians during the past week of unrest in the deeply divided nation.

The text said the fugitive president was responsible for “issuing and carrying out openly criminal orders,” including the summary detention and torture of protesters.

Volunteers in Yanukovich’s abandoned residence in Kiev were also working to preserve and recover hundreds of paper documents they say prove he was at the head of widespread corruption.

Yanukovich fled Ukraine’s capital on Friday night with his chief aide. Tuesday’s parliamentary resolution specified that close allies of the leader – former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor general Viktor Pshonka – should also be dragged before the ICC when captured.

Also on Tuesday, the former presidential aide said to be on the run with Yanukovich, Andriy Klyuev, was reported by “a trusted source” to have been shot in the leg after twice coming under fire, his spokesman told Reuters.

Ukraine’s new authorities say Yanukovich has travelled to the pro-Russian region of Crimea and other Ukrainian cities since he left Kiev, but his precise whereabouts are unknown.

“It's a remarkable situation when the most wanted man in the country is the president of Ukraine who is hiding and doing everything to leave the country, to avoid responsibility for hundreds of victims… It’s Yanukovich who gave the order,” said Vitaly Klitschko, a boxer-turned-politician who has been one of Yanukovich’s fiercest critics.

Twenty-five million euros needed

The diverging allegiances and forces threatening to pull Ukraine apart were still on display following the pro-Moscow president’s forced exit.

European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton travelled to Kiev Tuesday and met with the temporary pro-West leaders and members of parliament.

Diplomats from the United States, Europe and Russian were reportedly scrambling to forge a way forward for Ukraine, which has appealed for 25 billion euros in aid to help it avoid bankruptcy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday warned that Ukraine should not be forced to make a choice between the West and Russia, but said Moscow would not interfere in the future direction the Ukrainian people decide to take.

Bids for presidency begin

Meanwhile, parliament said a unity government would not be named until Thursday as lawmakers hope to turn over a new leaf after weeks of political instability.

FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Kiev, Gulliver Cragg, said forming a unity government would be challenging for the mainstream former opposition parties that are now in power and not ready to adopt a conciliatory tone.

“Some people are very strongly opposed to allowing some MPs from Victor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions into the future unity government because of their responsibility in the violence that took place and their association with Victor Yanukovich,” Cragg said.

Candidates for presidential elections set for May 25 also began to emerge from the disarray in Kiev.

“I will run for the post of president of Ukraine because I firmly believe that the rules of the game have to be changed in Ukraine,” Klitschko, the former WBC heavyweight champion, told journalists on Tuesday.

Other leaders thought to be likely candidates include Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a pro-EU former foreign and economy minister, and Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire businessman who has been at the forefront of protests against Yanukovich.

Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko could potentially be named interim prime minister by the end of the week, although Klitschko has expressed no interest in the premiership.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS, AP)

Date created : 2014-02-25

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