MOSCOW, February 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych has said he still considers himself the country's legitimate president.
“I, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych, address the people of Ukraine,” says the Yanukovych’s statement obtained by ITAR-TASS. “I still consider myself to be the legitimate leader of the Ukrainian state, elected on the basis of Ukrainian citizen’s free will. I cannot remain indifferent to tragic events in my home country. I consider the Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine, signed on February 21,2014, by myself and Ukrainian opposition leaders, not fulfilled. There is rampant extremism on the streets of our country. My supporters and I receive threats of inflicting bodily harm.”
“In such a situation, I officially declare my readiness to fight for fulfilling important compromise agreements on leading Ukraine out of the deep political crisis. I call for immediately bringing the situation in our country back to the constitutional field.”
“It becomes evident that people in south-eastern Ukraine and in the Crimea do not accept anarchy and lawlessness in the country, when ministers are elected by the crowd in the city square. As the incumbent president, I did not allow the armed forces of Ukraine to intervene into current political events. I do not allow this now as well. If someone gives such orders to the Armed Forces and security forces, these orders will be considered illegal and criminal.”
Mass anti-government protests, which were underway in Ukraine since November 2013, when Ukraine’s authorities refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia, took a new turn February 18. The new riots eventually caused President Yanukovich to flee his residence outside Kiev.
The Ukrainian parliament appointed an interim head of state and set early presidential elections for May 25. Yanukovich called the developments “a coup.” His current whereabouts are unknown. Acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said Yanukovich and other officials are on a wanted list for involvement in “mass murder” during protests.
According to the latest Ukrainian Health Ministry data, 82 people have been killed and 832 have turned to Kiev’s medical institutions for help, with 556 of them hospitalized, since the start of the latest violence on February 18.
It was not clear where Yanukovich is at the moment. Avakov said Monday the ousted leader had been in Crimea in southern Ukraine on Sunday accompanied by a few security guards. A deputy Ukrainian prosecutor general, Nikolai Golomsha, told journalists on Wednesday that Yanukovich was still in Ukraine.
Some Ukrainian media reported he could have already crossed the border with Russia. A number of Russian media claimed citing sources that Yanukovich could currently be in the Moscow Region.
The speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, said Viktor Yanukovich was Ukraine’s legitimate president because no procedures had been carried out to remove him from office.
After Yanukovich’s disappearance from his Kiev residence, Ukraine’s parliament reinstated the 2004 Constitution that gave broader powers to the legislature and cut presidential powers.
The Rada also canceled the law on the fundamentals of the state language policy, which had given Russian the status of a regional language in 13 out of 27 Ukrainian regions, including Crimea, where Russians and Ukrainians constitute the majority of about 85%, and Crimean Tatars account for about 15%.
Participants of two rallies, one pro-Russian and the other apparently anti-Russian, briefly clashed on Wednesday in front of Crimea’s parliament.
Itar-Tass correspondents reported Thursday that the buildings of Crimea’s parliament and government were under the control of the Russian speaking population’s “self-defense units.