KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Russia announced it has recalled its ambassador to Ukraine, citing the deteriorating political situation as the cause.
Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov "has been recalled for consultations," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told Interfax Ukraine News Agency. "I think you understand without my explanations what this means in diplomatic practice. ... 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 decision to recall Zurabov was made after the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday.
Russia has voiced its opposition to the removal of Yanukovych. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wrote on the Foreign Ministry website about the situation in Ukraine: "Illegal extremist groups refuse to hand over arms and are practically taking Kiev under their control with the connivance of opposition leaders sitting in the Verkhovna Rada."
Euromaidan demonstrations began in Kiev in November 2013 after Yanukovych announced Ukraine would not join the European Union, 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.
[Interfax Ukraine News Agency] [The Moscow Times]