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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-28

In his first public appearance since last week's ouster, Ukraine’s deposed president Viktor Yanukovich claimed he was not "overthrown" and blamed the violence in Kiev on "irresponsible Western policies".

Fugitive Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich on Friday blamed Western countries for the deadly violence in the capital of Kiev and pledged to continue fighting for the future of his country in his first public appearance since he went into hiding on the weekend.

The defiant fugitive leader said the crisis was due to the “irresponsible Western” policy of “indulging” protesters seeking his ouster. He said chaos followed the February 21 European-brokered agreement he signed with his opponents that was intended to end three months of crisis.

Ukraine’s new authorities want Yanukovich to stand trial at the International Criminal Court for violence that left over 100 dead last week. But the ousted president claimed he had not ordered police to shoot at protesters and said that responsibility for bloodshed lay with demonstrators.

Wearing a dark suit and tie and surrounded by Ukrainian flags, Yanukovich told a press conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, that he had “not been overthrown” but compelled to leave Ukraine for his own safety, claiming that he left the capital when his car came under gunfire.

Reporting from Kiev, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg said Ukrainians were not likely to “believe a word Yanukovich says about being attacked” and that he had lost support “even within his own political party.”

The sheer size and opulence of Yanukovich’s residence north of Kiev – in which volunteers have been collecting alleged evidence of widespread corruption – has discredited him among Ukrainians, Cragg said.

Parliament ‘illegitimate’

Yanukovich blasted the “anarchy, terror and chaos” that reigned over the country. “Power in Ukraine has been taken by nationalist, pro-fascist young people who represent the absolute minority of people in Ukraine," he said.

The pro-Russian leader said Ukraine’s parliament was illegitimate, and was passing legislation under pressure from armed militants camped out in Kiev's Independence Square, also known as Maidan.

He said he would not participate in forthcoming presidential elections, labelling them “illegal”.

He also said he would not ask for Russian military support in dealing with the crisis, declaring he had not seen Russian President Vladimir Putin while in hiding, but had spoken to him by telephone.

Yanukovich said he was surprised that Putin had not spoken publicly on last week’s events in Ukraine, and said a meeting with the Russian president would come “when the time was right.”

Date created : 2014-02-28


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