MOSCOW, February 4. /TASS/. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Wednesday that the fate of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, killed in October 2011, had been prepared for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Azarov said he does not want to judge Yanukovych’s deeds. "I would not like to be a judge," Azarov said at a news conference in Moscow on the occasion of the publication of his book Ukraine at a Crossroads.
He said Yanukovych had the opportunity to "keep order in the country," prevent the February 2014 coup.
"When an operation to shoot dead people on Maidan [Independence Square in downtown Kiev, the symbol of Ukrainian protests] was organized, the entire world and Ukraine were frightened — it was for the first time in our history that over 130 people were cold-bloodedly [shot dead] on Maidan, 26 of them being law enforcement officers," Azarov said.
"In this context, Yanukovych lost his heart and the hands of those who plotted a coup were free. He was called a bloody tyrant and it was said he was subject to liquidation. Groups tasked with capturing him and implementing the Libyan variant were formed. He was to have died like Gaddafi," he said.
"What was happening then in Ukraine can’t be compared with coups in Africa," Azarov said.
The former premier also said he does not condemn Yanukovych for leaving Kiev and heading for the country’s east when his liquidation was being organized.
"Three thousand and five hundred went to smash the presidential residence. Among them were 18 who were to have liquidated Yanukovich during the pogrom," Azarov said.
Crisis in Ukraine
Ukraine has been in deep crisis since the end of 2013, when then-President Viktor Yanukovych suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly. The move triggered mass riots that eventually led to a coup in February 2014.
The coup that brought chaos to Ukraine prompted the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with a special status to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of coup-imposed authorities, hold a referendum and secede from Ukraine to reunify with Russia in mid-March 2014 after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.
After that, mass protests erupted in Ukraine’s south-east, where local residents, apparently inspired by Crimea's example, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities either, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.
Thousands of people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s south-east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, according to UN data.
A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.
Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.
A memorandum was adopted on September 19, 2014 in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.
The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.
A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9, 2014. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities. Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics voiced the necessity to start withdrawal of heavy armaments, swap prisoners and demilitarize the region.