Ukraine Hunts Ex-Leader on Mass Murder Arrest Warrant

US warns Russia against intervention

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 24, 2014 4:53 AM CST | Updated Feb 24, 2014 7:54 AM CST

(Newser) – Ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich is now officially a fugitive from justice, just two days after the country's parliament voted to remove him from office. The country's interim interior minister has issued an arrest warrant accusing the ex-leader of "mass murder of peaceful citizens" over the deaths of scores of protesters in Kiev last week, the BBC reports.

  • Yanukovich, who fled the capital over the weekend while still declaring himself the country's legitimate leader, seems highly unlikely to turn himself in. Officials say he was last seen in the autonomous and strongly pro-Russia Crimea region, but left by car for an unknown destination.

  • The Obama administration has warned Russia against sending troops to Ukraine, which is split between a pro-Russia east and pro-European Union west, Voice of America reports. Russian intervention would be a "grave mistake," National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned yesterday. "It is not in the interest of Ukraine or of Russia, or Europe, or the United States to see the country split. It is in nobody’s interest to see violence return and the situation escalate."
  • But Dmitry Medvedev said he had "great doubts" about the legitimacy of the new government. "Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise," he told Russian media, according to the AFP. "This is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny." The Kremlin has recalled its ambassador to Kiev, and there have been pro-Yanukovich demonstrations in Russia.
  • But fears of a split are easing, the New York Times finds. Yanukovich's own party has now turned against him, issuing a statement accusing him of betraying a country that now finds itself "deceived and robbed."
  • Parliament speaker and acting president Oleksandr Turchinov—an ally of now-freed Yanukovich archrival Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to form a unity government before tomorrow to run the country until elections in May. But whoever takes charge will face very tough challenges, including an economy in crisis, Reuters notes. To ease the transition, the EU and US have both offered financial aid.

Protesters pose in front of the Yanukovichh's countryside residence yesterday.
Protesters pose in front of the Yanukovichh's countryside residence yesterday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
Rosary beads hang on a barricade in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.
Rosary beads hang on a barricade in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
A woman places flowers at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.
A woman places flowers at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
A coffin with the body of a protester killed in recent clashes is carried through Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.
A coffin with the body of a protester killed in recent clashes is carried through Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A sticker depicting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is placed on a burned military truck in Kiev, Ukraine.
A sticker depicting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is placed on a burned military truck in Kiev, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic)
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