Fugitive Ukraine leader wanted for mass murder

2014-02-24 15:11

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Kiev – Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was on the run, possibly somewhere in southern Ukraine, hunted by police for “mass murder” linked to the revolt against his rule in which scores have been killed.

Yanukovych (63), now accompanied only by his chief aide and a handful of security guards, was known to have been in the pro-Russian Crimea at midnight yesterday after zig-zagging furtively around eastern Ukraine to find a safe haven.

But Ukraine’s interim interior minister said Yanukovych and his entourage had driven off to an unknown destination having shut down their communications systems in a move to avoid being tracked.

“An official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened,” the minister, Arsen Avakov, wrote on Facebook. “Yanukovych and other people responsible for this have been declared wanted.”

It was an ignominious political end for Yanukovych who has been publicly deserted by some of his closest erstwhile allies, stripped of his luxury residence outside Kiev and witnessing the return of his arch-rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Andriy Klyuev, a minor oligarch who was Yanukovych’s head of administration, appeared to be the only person left by his side. He was still with his boss, Avakov said.

More than 80 people were shot dead in the capital, Kiev, last week, most of them anti-government protesters, in a bloody climax to a three-month, largely peaceful, campaign against Yanukovych’s policies, known as the Euro-Maidan.

Dumped now by his closest allies and backers after violence that shocked the world, Yanukovych fled Kiev by helicopter on Friday – the day when the Euro-Maidan told opposition leaders they rejected a deal they had done with him and demanded that he immediately step down.

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