WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The White House confirmed Monday that it no longer views Viktor Yanukovych as the president of Ukraine, and recognized the lawfully elected parliamentary speaker as the interim leader.
"... Mr. Yanukovych has left Kyiv in an orderly fashion -- packed up his things and left, and his whereabouts are not known to us in a confirmable way. And certainly, while he was a democratically elected leader, his actions have undermined his legitimacy and he is not actively leading the country at present. We do believe that parliament has lawfully elected its new speaker and we support getting the situation under control in terms of law and order and in ensuring that the institutions of government are working."
Euromaidan demonstrations began in Kiev in November 2013 after then-President Viktor Yanukovych announced Ukraine would not join the EU, a move that was seen as bowing to pressure from Russia and thwarting Ukraine's attempt to advance its economy. Protests continued for months despite the freezing temperatures and threat of violence. Protesters at Euromaidan rallies, led by the government opposition parties, also demanded constitutional reform, a more balanced government power structure, and the removal of the president.
On Saturday, Ukraine's parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from the presidency. An arrest warrant was issued for the president and others for their involvement in "mass killings of civilians" at the Euromaidan protests.
Ukrainian parliamentary president Oleksandr Turchynov announced Tuesday that a government of national unity would be formed on Thursday, and presidential elections are scheduled for May 25.