Arrest warrant issued for Yanukovych
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was placed on a “wanted” list today after Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov opened a criminal investigation into last week’s killings of protesters in Kyiv’s Maidan Square.
“As of this morning, a criminal case on mass killings of civilians has been opened. Yanukovych and several other officials have been placed on the wanted list,” Avakov announced on his Facebook page. Excerpts of Avakov’s statement have been translated into English by Interfax-Ukraine and Kyiv Post.
The whereabouts of Yanukovych are unknown.
Yanukovych left Kyiv on Friday shortly after signing an agreement with three opposition leaders calling for constitutional reforms and early presidential elections by December. He flew to Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city near the Russian border, where he was supposed to attend a Party of Regions congress.
After the parliament – Verkhovna Rada – voted on Saturday to remove Yanukovych from office (citing his absence in Kyiv) and schedule elections for May 25th, Yanukovych adamantly stated that he will not resign and will remain in Ukraine in an interview with UBR-TV.
Yanukovych and his entourage then flew from Kharkiv to his hometown of Donetsk, where his chartered planes were blocked from leaving by border guards, according to Avakov. Yanukovych then traveled to Crimea, where he stayed a private facility. Yanukovych reportedly gave up state protection and left “in an unknown direction in three cars, turning off all communications devices” after he learned about “the parliament’s decision to appoint [Oleksandr] Turchynov [head of the Rada] as acting president of Ukraine.”
What’s left of Yanukovych’s power was eroded even more when the Rada began building a new interim Cabinet over the weekend and appointed:
- Avakov as the acting Minister of Internal Affairs;
- Nalyvaichenko V.O. as the acting Commissioner of Security Services;
- V.M. Zamana as the acting Commissioner of the Defense Ministry;
- O.I. Makhnitskyi as the acting Commissioner of the Prosecutor’s General Office;
The Rada also dismissed:
- Tabachynk D.V. as Minister of Education and Science;
- L.O. Kozhara as Minister of Foreign Affairs;
- Bohatyriova R.V. as the Minister of Health;
- Pshonka Viktor Pavlovych as the Prosecutor General;
Today, the parliament voted to dismiss five judges – Holovin Anatolii Serhilovych, Kolos Mykhailo Ivanovych, Markush Maria Andriivna, Ovcharenko Viacheslav Andrilovych, and Paseniuk Oleksandr Mykhailovych, of the Constitutional Court. The parliament also recommended removing seven other judges – Bryntsev Vasyl Dmytrovych, Hultai Mykhailo Myroslavovych, Zaporozhets Mykhailo Petrovych, Serheichuk Oleh Anatoliiovych, and Shaptala Natalia Konstiantynivna – from the bench pending reviews.
Russia, clearly unhappy with the latest developments, withdrew its ambassador from Ukraine – an unprecedented move given the two countries’ close economic and political ties.
“Our ambassador has been recalled for consultations. I think you understand without my explanations what this means in diplomatic practice,” Dimtry Medvedev, Russia’s Prime Minister, told Interfax. “It is not clear to us what is going on there and that there is a real threat to our interests and to our citizens’ lives and health.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry strongly criticized the recent actions of the Rada, describing them as “dictatorial”.
“Russia is surprised that several European politicians hurried up to uphold early presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for May although the agreement of February 21 says the elections should take part after the constitutional reform is over. It is clear that all political forces should take part in carrying out this reform. All regions should take part in the reform, and its results should be submitted to a referendum,” according to a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice emphasized yesterday that it would be a “grave mistake” if Russia decides to send forces into Ukraine to restore a pro-Russian government or to supporting splitting the country in half. The western part of Ukraine favors closer ties to Europe, and the eastern region favors Russia.
“It’s not in the interests of Ukrainian or of Russia or of Europe or the United States to see the country split. It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate,” said Rice during her appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press. “There is not an inherent contradiction…between a Ukraine that has longstanding historic and cultural ties to Russia and a modern Ukraine that wants to integrate more closely with Europe.”
Mass demonstrations have been held in Maidan Square since late November when Yanukovych suspended talks on the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement. The protests turned deadly last week. At least 75 people were reportedly killed in clashes with police, many of them shot by snipers.
- WhatTheFolly.com: Yulia Tymoshenko freed, Yanukovych refused to resign
- WhatTheFolly.com: Ukraine’s parliament votes to release former PM Yulia Tymoshenko from prison
- WhatTheFolly.com: Ukraine President signs deal with 3 opposition leaders to end political crisis
- WhatTheFolly.com: S&P downgrades Ukraine’s credit rating, warns country may default due to political turmoil
- WhatTheFolly.com: Police crack down on demonstrators in Ukraine, EU & US condemn excessive force
- WhatTheFolly.com: Human rights groups condemn excessive force by police against pro-EU demonstrators in Ukraine
- interfax.com.ua: Ambassador’s withdrawal a sign of extreme concern about situation in Ukraine – Medvedev
- interfax.com.ua: Yanukovych put on wanted list – Avakov
- kyivpost.com: Arrest warrants issued for Yanukovych, other former Ukraine officials on suspicion of mass murder
- kyivpost.com: Avakov resists Italy extradition
- whitehouse.gov: Statement by the Press Secretary on Ukraine
- Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine: The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution “On reaction to the fact of breaking an oath of a judge by judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine”
- Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine: The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution “On conferring powers of the President of Ukraine on the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada according to article 112 of the Constitution of Ukraine”
- Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine: The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution “On self-withdrawal of the President of Ukraine from performing his constitutional duties and setting early elections of the President of Ukraine”
ITAR-TASS News Agency: Russia calls for preventing deterioration of situation in Ukraine
- NBCNews.com: Meet The Press transcript Feb. 23, 2014