Ousted Viktor Yanukovych rips new Ukrainian government, vows return

March 11, 2014 at 11:57 AM
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ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia, March 11 (UPI) -- Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych Tuesday defiantly vowed to return to Kiev and accused the new government of fomenting civil war.

He also reiterated that he is the country's legitimate president and supreme commander in chief, Russia's ITAR-Tass reported.

"I would like to remind that I remain the only legitimate president of Ukraine, as well as supreme commander in chief," Yanukovych said during the news conference at Rostov-on-Don in Russia. "I didn't terminate my authority ahead of time. I'm alive; I wasn't dismissed from office according to a procedure stipulated by Ukraine's Constitution."

"I repeat: I have not fled anywhere. When the radicals were seizing governmental facilities and the presidential administration, when the anti-constitutional seizure of power took place with the use of arms, I was, as it is known, in Ukraine," Yanukovych said.

He previously said he sought protection from Russia because he feared for his life and the lives of his family. Yanukovych surfaced in Rostov-on-Don several days after he was ousted.

"I did not leave Ukraine in the moment of the coup," Yanukovych said. "On those days, they tried to use terrorist actions against me. Once circumstances permit -- which won't take long -- I'll return to Kiev."

Anti-government protests began in November when Yanukovych changed his mind about signing political and trade agreements with the European Union in favor of strengthening economic ties with Russia. He was ousted in late February.

"Any governmental agencies that current authorities in Kiev may form would be illegitimate," Yanukovych said. "The elections slated for May 25 are illegitimate and do not correspond to the Constitution of Ukraine. I believe that the elections will be held under total control of extremist forces."

He also said the $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine promised by Secretary of State John Kerry was illegal and that he would petition the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court for a judgment, Kremlin-supported broadcaster RT reported.

"I plan on appealing to the Congress, Senate and U.S. Supreme Court with an urgent proposal to provide a legal assessment of the actions of the country. You have no right in your own laws to allocate funds to gangsters," Yanukovych said during his second news conference since reportedly arriving in Rostov-on-Don Feb. 27 and holding a news conference a day later.

He also bemoaned the decision in the autonomous, pro-Moscow Crimea to hold a referendum Sunday on the peninsula's breaking away Ukraine, blaming the actions of the "extremists" in power, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty reported. But Yanukovych predicted Ukraine would "rise up and unify."

Pro-Russia lawmakers in Crimea, occupied by thousands of Russian forces, approved a declaration on the republic's independence Tuesday, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty said. Lawmakers said the adoption of the declaration was a technicality ahead of Sunday's referendum that will ask voters whether Crimea should secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

In Kiev, Ukraine's Parliament warned the Crimea Parliament it would be dissolved unless it cancels the referendum. Western states and the new government in Kiev have said they would not recognize the vote.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said European Union sanctions could be imposed on Russia as early as this week for its actions in Crimea, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier offered assurances that the Baltic states, once part of the former Soviet Union as was Ukraine, will be protected by their NATO membership, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty said.

For the fifth time in 10 days, the U.N. Security Council met Monday to discuss the Ukraine crisis. What meaningful action it could take is unknown, since Russia is a permanent member and has veto power.

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