Arrest warrant for Yanukovych
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine’s acting government issued a warrant today for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule.
Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial, after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and cracked down on protesters. Anger boiled over last week after snipers attacked protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.
The turmoil has turned this strategically located country of 46 million inside out over the past few days, raising fears that it could split apart. The parliament speaker is suddenly nominally in charge of a country whose economy is on the brink of default and whose loyalties are torn between Europe and long-time ruler Russia.
“The state treasury has been torn apart, the country has been brought to bankruptcy,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a leader of the protest movement and prominent lawmaker whose name is being floated as a possibility for prime minister, said in parliament today.
The acting finance minister said today that the country needed $35 billion (25.5 billion euros) to finance government needs this year and next and expressed hope that Europe or the United States would help.
Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakhov, said on his official Facebook page today that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians”. At least 82 people, primarily protesters, were killed in clashes in Kiev last week.
Avakhov says Yanukovych arrived in Crimea yesterday, relinquished his official security detail and then drove off to an unknown location, turning off all forms of communication. “Yanukovych has disappeared,” he said.