Interpol mulls Yanukovych arrest warrant

2014-03-07 09:19
Viktor Yanukovych. (Alexander Klein, AFP)

Viktor Yanukovych. (Alexander Klein, AFP)

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Lyon - Interpol said on Friday it was considering a request from Ukraine's new government to issue an arrest warrant for ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.

The international police organisation confirmed it had received a request from authorities in Kiev on Wednesday to issue a "Red Notice", or international wanted persons alert, for Yanukovych on charges including abuse of power and murder.

The request "is being assessed by Interpol's office of legal affairs to determine whether it conforms with the organisation's constitution and rules", it said in a statement.

"All Interpol member countries have been informed of the ongoing review."

Ukraine's interim prosecutor said on 26 February that Kiev had requested an international arrest warrant for Yanukovych over the "mass murder" of protesters during the anti-government demonstrations that toppled the pro-Russian leader four days earlier.

At the time, Yanukovych's whereabouts were unknown, though he resurfaced in Russia two days later.

Russia is an Interpol member, but the organisation stressed that it "cannot compel any member country to arrest the subject of a Red Notice".

Since Yanukovych's ousting, set in motion by his refusal to sign a landmark association accord with the European Union, tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine's future have escalated to levels not seen since the Cold War.

Russian troops have effectively taken control of Crimea, a predominantly ethnic Russian region, raising the spectre of Ukraine's splintering.

In response, the EU and United States have imposed various sanctions on Russia, including targeted visa bans by Washington and the suspension of visa and economic talks with Brussels.

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