Fugitive Ukraine president shows up in Moscow

2014-02-28 07:00
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych talk during a news conference in Moscow. (File, AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych talk during a news conference in Moscow. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Moscow - Ukraine's fugitive president surfaced on Thursday in Moscow, where he was said to have been seen at an opulent five-star hotel and a Kremlin country retreat once favoured by the late Boris Yeltsin.

Viktor Yanukovych reportedly was granted protection in Russia, but he has not received a warm reception. Although Russia still considers him the legitimate president of Ukraine, the Kremlin has treated him cautiously and portrayed him as a coward who betrayed those who stood by him.

Yanukovych made his appeal for protection in a written statement released simultaneously by two Russian state news agencies: "I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists," he wrote.

Shortly afterward, the same agencies quoted an unidentified government official as saying that the request had been "satisfied on the territory of Russia".

Since he was driven out of Ukraine's capital nearly a week ago after three months of protests, Yanukovych had been on the run.

Lost weight

His last public appearance was Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where he declared in a video address that he was still president and would not leave the country.

The opposition leaders who suddenly found themselves in charge of the country, however, said Yanukovych then promptly tried to fly out from Donetsk, also in eastern Ukraine, but was stopped by the border service.

He then showed up on the Crimean Peninsula, where Russia has a naval base, according to the acting interior minister, who said Yanukovych and his remaining loyal guards were last seen driving away in three cars early on Monday.

Yanukovych arrived in Moscow early on Tuesday and checked into the Hotel Ukraina, according to the reliable RBK business daily, which said the information initially came from one of Russia's wealthy businessmen and was confirmed by a government official.

By Wednesday, Yanukovych had moved to the Barvikha Sanitorium, a well-guarded compound just outside the city with a hotel, cottages and medical centre run by the presidential administration's property department, the report said.

The spokesperson for this department, Viktor Khrekov, told The Associated Press that he had no information about this.

RBK, however, cited an unidentified official in the presidential administration as saying that he had seen Yanukovych at Barvikha and he looked haggard and had lost weight.

The report, written under the bylines of respected journalists with high-level contacts in business and government circles, could not immediately be confirmed.

Kremlin support

A security guard turned away two AP journalists on Thursday as they approached the entrance to Barvikha. The gated compound was built in Soviet times as a place where ailing government officials could rest and receive medical care. Yeltsin, Russia's first post-Soviet president, stayed there often as his health declined.

At the Hotel Ukraina, security was unusually heavy late on Wednesday, with police watching from parked vehicles outside. Security guards posted at the door and throughout the opulent lobby tracked visitors and guests.

RBK, citing the presidential administration official, said Ukraine's former prosecutor general, Viktor Pshonka, was still at the hotel and had checked into the presidential suite. On the hotel's website, the suite is described as meeting "the highest standards for security" and lists for about $9 700 per night.

If he needs a new car, the hotel has a Rolls-Royce dealership on the ground floor.

Ukraine's acting government has warrants out for the arrests of Yankovych and Pshonka in the shooting deaths of dozens of protesters in Kiev last week.

Anatoly Kucherena, a Kremlin-connected lawyer, said Yanukovych's life was in danger in Ukraine and that Russia had no choice but to grant his request for protection, but it did not necessarily mean that he still had the Kremlin's support.

Kucherena, who spoke to the Interfax news agency, also represents Eduard Snowden, the former National Security Agency systems analyst evading US espionage charges who has sought asylum in Russia, and often comments on legal issues.

President Vladimir Putin has not commented publicly on the situation in Ukraine since Yanukovych was driven out. The tone has been set by Russian state television, which has denigrated the Ukrainian leader for failing to stand up to the protesters and taking flight, betraying those who stood by him.

Dmitry Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center said the descriptions of Yanukovych in state media leave little doubt how he's seen by the Kremlin and Putin.

"I think he simply failed in expectations that had been placed on him at the time that Putin was giving him large amounts of financial support, of which $3bn are in danger of being never returned to Russia," Trenin said in a conference call with journalists.

"The relationship between Putin and Yanukovych is well-known to have been a very bad one, with the Russian leader not having much respect for his Ukrainian counterpart," the political scholar said.

"So I think that they will give him protection, but he is not going to be an active element in any Russian strategy vis-a-vis Ukraine in the near future."

In his statement asking for protection, Yanukovych said he still considers himself the president of Ukraine.

His future plans may become clearer Friday, when news agencies reported that he will give a press conference in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia about 1 000km from Moscow.

- AP
Read more on:    viktor yanukovych  |  vladimir putin  |  ukraine  |  ukraine protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music
 

How to maintain your mo, bro

Get some great tips on how to trim your tash - leaving you looking fantash-tic!

 
 

Men24.com

Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!
10 ways to drive her wild!
Hottie of the day: Angela
10 things you should never say after sex

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

ONE DAY ONLY – Buy 1 book & get 1 FREE!

There are 100’s of hot titles to choose from. Offer valid while stocks last. T&C’s apply. Shop now!

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.