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Russia questions legitimacy of Ukrainian authorities

AFP

Russia’s prime minister voiced grave doubts on Monday over the legitimacy of the authorities in Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovich’s ouster, criticising Western states for recognising officials he said came to power in an “armed mutiny”.

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In some of Russia’s strongest statements condemning the toppling of the Moscow-backed leader, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made clear he was not yet ready to engage with the former opposition figure appointed acting leader by parliament.

“We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens,” Medvedev was quoted as telling Russian news agencies, explaining why Moscow had recalled its Kiev ambassador on Sunday.

“Strictly speaking there is no one to talk to there. There are big doubts about the legitimacy of a whole series of organs of power that are now functioning there,” he said.

Medvedev described some of the opposition activists involved in the street protests that led to Yanukovich’s demise as “men in black masks with Kalashnikovs who are carving up Kiev,” the reports said.

“It will be hard for us to work with such a government,” state-run RIA quoted him as saying. “Some of our foreign partners think differently ... it seems to me it is an aberration to call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny,” he added.

European support

Anger boiled over in Ukraine last week after government snipers killed scores of anti-government protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.

The turmoil has turned this strategically located country of 46 million inside out over the past few days. After the parliament voted his ouster, Yanukovich has reportedly fled to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russian area in Ukraine. The parliament speaker is now nominally in charge of a country whose ailing economy is on the brink of default and whose loyalties are sharply torn between Europe and long-time ruler Russia.

Russia and the European Union appeared to be taking opposing sides in Ukraine’s new political landscape.

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly referred to parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov as the “interim president” and said Turchinov will meet with Monday visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Kiev.

Turchinov said he hopes to form a new coalition government by Tuesday.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)

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