Ukraine president in Kharkiv - US official

2014-02-22 11:05
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych speaks in Kiev during an address to the nation. (File, AFP)

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych speaks in Kiev during an address to the nation. (File, AFP)

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Washington - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych visited Kharkiv, considered his eastern political base, for a meeting on Friday, according to a US official in Washington.

"Our information, and I talked to the foreign minister about half an hour ago, is that President Yanukovych has gone out to Kharkiv... to some kind of a meeting that is taking place out there, and that he has now arrived," the official said.

Asked about rumours that Yanukovych had "fled" Kiev, after signing a deal with the Ukrainian opposition, the official appeared to play down the suggestion.

"As you know, it is not unusual after he makes large political moves for him to visit the east, where his base is," the official said.

Ukraine's embattled leader agreed on a deal with the opposition in an effort to end the ex-Soviet country's worst crisis since independence, after three days of carnage left nearly 100 protesters dead.

But Yanukovych's dramatic decision to hold early elections and form a new unity government while granting amnesty for those involved in the violence was met with scepticism or even hostility by nearly 40 000 protesters who gathered on central Kiev's main square - many of them frustrated the leader was not stepping down.

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