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Yanukovych speaks to hundred journalists in Russia amid increased security

March 11, 2014, 14:50 UTC+3 ROSTOV-ON-DON

Yanukovych took the stage after a ten-minute delay

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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsin

ROSTOV-ON-DON, March 11. /ITAR-TASS/. About a hundred journalists witnessed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s statement in the Russian southern city of Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday.

Although the venue was shrouded in secrecy to the last minute, correspondents of numerous Russian and foreign media gathered in the small hours near the exhibition center where the Ukrainian leader encountered journalists two weeks ago. Their expectations were confirmed — VertolExpo hosted the meeting with Yanukovych again.

Journalists were to present their IDs and staff passports for thorough examination at the entrance as well as their personal belongings. No bottles or food was allowed in the press conference hall. A security staff man explained it was a reasonable security precaution.

Yanukovych took the stage after a ten-minute delay. The journalists were waiting for the moment with bated breath. The speech was accompanied with camera flashes, some were obviously impatient to see the end of the speech and have a chance to ask questions. After he thanked journalists for attention and made for the exit, some sprang to their feet to shower Yanukovych with questions. Yet as expected, Yanukovych confined himself to the official statement with the basic idea of his legitimacy as the president and commander-in-chief of Ukraine.

“I want to tell you I'll remain Ukraine's legitimate president and supreme commander-in-chief. I haven't stopped my powers. I'm not dismissed in compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine,” he said.

“The USA and other countries say I am not a legitimate president, because I ran away from the country,” Yanukovych said. “I repeat: I did not run away. When the radicals seized government buildings and the presidential administration - in fact, unconstitutionally and violently - I was in Ukraine, as everybody knows.”

Yanukovych is sure the presidential election scheduled for May 25 by a “clique that grabbed power as a result of a coup” will be “illegitimate and run counter to the Constitution of Ukraine”. Soldiers and officers of Ukrainian armed forces will not carry out orders of this band, he believes.

He also announced plans to go back to Kiev as soon as possible.

“I did not leave Ukraine at the moment of the coup,” said Yanukovych. “On those days, they tried to use terrorist actions against me. Once circumstances permit - which won't take long - I'll return to Kiev.”

“I'm alive, I haven't been impeached in accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution,” he added. “The USA says I've lost legitimacy because I fled the country. But everybody knows I was in Ukraine: in (the cities of) Donetsk and Kharkiv.”

Furthermore, Yanukovych is planning to turn to the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress for an assessment of the U.S. plans in relation to Ukraine, in particular $1 billion dollar aid. “You have no right to provide such funding,” he said referring to the US ban on financial aid for a state whose legitimate president has been toppled.

Yanukovych’s emergence in Rostov-on-Don refuted media rumors of his illness. “As different rumors are being spread about me in Ukraine, I would like to say I am alive. However, I cannot say I am feeling well, as I cannot watch the developments in Ukraine without the deepest and terrible concern,” he said.

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