Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told reporters in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, today that his government was overtaken by “pro-nationalist youths, who represent an absolute minority” and “pro-fascist activists” moved in.
“It is time for me to say that I’m going to continue fighting for Ukraine’s future against those who try to conquer it with fear and terror. I was forced to leave Ukraine because of an immediate threat to my life and the lives of people close to me,” Yanukovych said. “…It will be difficult to exit this tough crisis and turbulence that the country is going through as the result of it. It’s a result of the irresponsible policy of the West that encouraged Maidan (protests).”
Yanukovych said last week’s agreement reached between his government and opposition forces — a pact for which Washington partially took credit as European foreign ministers negotiated the terms — “gave us some hope,” but then it descended into “chaos, terror.”
Maidan leaders demanded the ouster of Yanukovych after the agreement was inked because it didn’t call for elections until fall, bringing little justice to the dozens of protesters shot by Yanukovych’s snipers.
“I would like to say sorry to the veterans, to the Ukrainian people that I did not have the power to stop the chaos that is happening in Ukraine right now. First of all, I have to say I did not run, I moved from Kyiv to the city of Kharkiv. During my move I was shot at from automatic weapons. The car that covered me was effectively shot at from all sides,” Yanukovych said. “I was not leaving alone, and did not run. I wanted to meet with activists of the Party of Regions and civic organizations at the forum that was supposed to be held in Kharkiv. We did arrive late there. When we came to Kharkiv, early in the morning Feb. 22, the Security Service received information that the radical groups are coming to the city.”
He said he was forced to flee from the pro-Russia stronghold to Donetsk and then “came to find temporary shelter” in Russia. These movements by car and plane occurred while Washington said they didn’t know where he was.
“In Russia, I arrived thanks to the patriotic officers who performed their duty and helped me save my life. Second, I have not met with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. I have not, after arriving to the territory of Russia. We spoke on the phone. We agreed that as soon as the Russian president has an opportunity to meet with me, we shall meet. I said I wasn’t just cheated, I was cynically cheated,” Yanukovych continued.
He said he “will never recognize” his ouster by parliament, in which the majority of his party turned against him.
“If the president did not resign, according to constitution, if he is alive – and as you can see I am alive – and if he was not impeached, he is still acting president. The show in parliament, with violence against deputies, I cannot recognize and will never recognize.”
When asked what Moscow’s role should be in all of this, Yanukovych replied, “The agreements between Ukraine and Russia, within the framework of those agreements Russia has a right to act. I think Russia must act, and knowing the character of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, I am surprised that he is so restrained and silent. Those agreements we have with Russia, Russia has a right to act.”
(Full transcript and video can be found at the Kyiv Post)
Ukraine accused Russia of staging a military invasion Friday after gunmen seized control of airports in the Crimean peninsula. Russian military also blocked off the headquarters of the Ukrainian navy in Sevastopol. Russia Today claimed they’re just “self-defense squads” helping keep the peace.
Secretary of State John Kerry said just yesterday that he’d received assurances from the Kremlin that it wouldn’t be an aggressor despite a Russian flag hoisted above a parliament building in the Crimean peninsula and a massive military buildup along the border.
Opposition leaders, who have charged Yanukovych with murder, have asked Interpol to put him in the database of persons wanted for crimes against humanity.
“I am sure that Yanukovych should be returned to Ukraine. Many deaths and much blood are on the hands of Yanukovych and it must answer for it,” Vitali Klitschko said.