ROSTOV-ON-DON, February 28 (RAPSI) – Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich delivered a press conference Friday during which he declared the refusal to acknowledge his ouster, and vowed his determination to continue the fight for Ukraine’s future.
The press conference was held at the southern Russian city of Rostov-On-Don, where Yanukovich arrived after Russia granted him protection. Yanukovich added that he had to leave Ukraine after his family received threats.
Yanukovich stated that he continues to be the legitimate leader of Ukraine, and that the authority in the country was subjugated by radical nationalistic thugs that do not represent the majority of the Ukrainian people.
He added that the early presidential elections scheduled to be held in May will be unlawful, and vowed his refusal to participate. The Ukrainian parliament called earlier this week for presidential elections to be held on May 25.
Yanukovich further called for an investigation into violence in the country under the oversight of the Council of Europe.
He stressed that Ukraine must be preserved as a whole, undivided nation. According to local news reports, Crimea's parliament took steps Thursday to initiate an autonomy referendum.
He added that he never gave orders for the police to shoot, and that they only took up arms when their lives were at risk. Fighting between radical anti-government protesters and police has claimed 82 lives since the violence escalated on February 18, according to the Ukrainian Health Ministry.
He further warned of the devastating impact Ukraine's economy could suffer due to the loss of Russia as an economic partner.
Speaking on the topic of his former political rival and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovich stated that he wishes her no evil, but that it's a known fact she cost the Ukraine $20 billion.
Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony for abuse of power based on a gas deal she signed with Russia in 2009. She was freed Saturday.
He added that Tymoshenko's prison experience was quite plush compared to what most people would face in similar circumstances.
Yanukovich told reporters that he has never owned property or accounts abroad, maintaining that as a public person - all of his assets were properly declared.
On Tuesday, the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a recommendation for financial institutions to closely monitor transactions with accounts connected with Yanukovich.
Last weekend Ukraine’s Supreme Rada (parliament) ousted and impeached President Viktor Yanukovich, appointed Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov acting president. Several new ministers have been appointed this week.
On Wednesday, Acting Prosecutor General Makhnytskyi said they have a court warrant to find and detain Yanukovich under charges related to the killing of civilians during the mass protests in Kiev. He added that they are also looking for former prosecutor general Viktor Pshonka.
Unrest in Kiev erupted this month anew as thousands of people marched on the parliament building, where a standoff was taking place over proposed constitutional reforms that the opposition said could provide a way out of the political crisis that is paralyzing the country. The violence that ensued resulted in numerous deaths and hundreds of injuries.