Ukrainian Ex-President Charged With Mass Murder By Acting Government
The new acting government in Ukraine put out a warrant Monday for the arrest of deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country prior to the warrant’s release. The warrant charges Yanukovych with “mass murder of peaceful civilians,” along with a number of other unnamed government officials. Included in the warrant are the just less than 100 Ukrainians that were killed in the conflict between protestors and law enforcement in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev over the past week, many of them having been shot by snipers, according to a senior U.S. State Department official.
“An official case for the mass murder of peaceful civilians has been opened. Yanukovych and other people responsible for this have been declared wanted,” said Ukraine’s interim interior minister, Arsen Avakov, on Facebook, as translated by the Washington Post.
Ukraine, which is presently in economic crisis with risk of defaulting on debt without major economic intervention, is rushing to put a new temporary government in place after the signed agreement outlined its future sans Yanukovych. Yanukovych’s departure came soon after parliament voted for his removal on Saturday, simultaneously voting for former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to be released from jail, as well.
She later was mentioned as a possible candidate for prime minister but has since publicly stated that she has no interest in the position and that they had not discussed the possibility with her, the Washington Post reports. However, she did suggest her fellow opposition leader, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, who has been highly involved in street protests against Yanukovych, for the position, per the New York Times.
As to Yanukovych’s location, it is still unknown after he fled via helicopter, leaving behind his mansion worth millions. “Millions of Ukrainians want to know where is the president. He’s disappeared,” said Vitali Klitschko, leader of UDAR, an opposition group, according to the Washington Post.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, saying of Yanukovich: “He has gone … He’s lost enormous legitimacy — despite having been originally democratically elected — by turning on his people, by using violence in the streets against peaceful protestors, and by flouting the will of the Ukrainian people.” She also addressed the economic situation within Ukraine, saying that it’s presently “very, very fragile.”
Russia continues to be a concern in regards to Ukraine’s future. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Yanukovych had ties that make Putin’s moves going forward in Ukraine particularly important. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) spoke to CNN on Russia’s involvement, calling on Obama to “up his game and send a clear, unequivocal, public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine” and “to let the Ukrainian people determine their future, to ensure that there is no interference in their sovereignty.”
Some Russian involvement has been praised, with a State Department Official noting that the phone call between President Barack Obama and Putin on Friday went well, and that Vladimir Lukin, a representative to Russia, had aided in the agreement, finally signed by relevant parties.