Yanukovych Vows To Fight On, Denounces New Ukrainian Authorities
February 28, 2014
Viktor Yanukovych says he's still the legitimate president of Ukraine, and that the country's current authorities are 'fascist thugs.'
In his first public appearance since he fled Kyiv one week ago Yanukovych spoke at a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on February 28.
'The time has come for me to say that I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine against those who are trying, through terror and fear, to take charge over it,' Yanukovych told reporters. 'And I decided to speak publicly about that.'
Yanukovych denied that he had been removed from power, maintaining that he had been forced to leave because of direct threats to his safety.
'Nobody has ousted me,' he said. 'I was forced to leave Ukraine because of an immediate threat to my life and the life of my loved ones.'
He added that he would return to Ukraine only after receiving guarantees of his safety.
Yanukovych insisted that Ukraine should remain 'united and whole,' including Crimea, where there is a major Russian influence.
Yanukovych said he would not seek military assistance from anyone to return to the seat of power in Kyiv.
He also apologized to Ukrainians for not maintaining stability.
He denounced Western powers for failing to implement the February 21 Western-brokered agreement that Yanukovych signed with the opposition.
Yanukovych fled Kyiv a short time after signing the pact, and the deal, which called for early presidential elections and a unity government, has not been implemented.
He also condemned the West as irresponsible for supporting the Maidan protest movement.
Yanukovych denied ordering security forces to shoot at protesters. Ukraine's new authorities want to put him on trial for mass murder for the deaths of protesters.
He also apologized to the 'brave fighters' of the Berkut crowd-control police who he said 'stood and suffered innocently' and unarmed while protesters pelted them with Molotov cocktails and shot at them.
Yanukovych said he didn't understand why Russian President Vladimir Putin has been largely silent on Ukraine's crisis. He said he had not met with Putin since he left Ukraine, but he expects to meet with Putin when the Russian leader has time.
Yanukovych also denied allegations he ever had foreign property or foreign bank accounts.
On February 28, Austria announced it was freezing the bank accounts of 18 Ukrainians suspected of human rights violations and corruption, but it did not disclose their names. Switzerland also said it would freeze any accounts held there by Yanukovych and his close associates.
Yanukovych said publication of photographs of the lavish presidential estate at Mezhyhirya were a plot to 'discredit' him. He said he only owned and lived in a small house on the property.
Ukraine's new government has issued a warrant for Yanukovych's arrest and has said it will ask Russia to extradite him.
Ukraine's parliament has asked that he be tried at the international court at The Hague for his alleged involvement in the deaths of Maidan protesters.
Yanukovych also insisted he had no personal animosity against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, but said that parliament's decision last week to release her was legally invalid.
Yanukovych narrowly defeated Tymoshenko in the 2010 presidential election.
The next year, she was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for alleged abuse of office.
Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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