Arrest warrant issued for Ukraine ousted president

Arrest warrant issued for Ukraine ousted president

PanARMENIAN.Net - Ukraine has issued Monday, Feb 24, a warrant for the arrest of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, the interim interior minister has announced, according to BBC News.

Arsen Avakov said on Facebook that a criminal case had been opened against Yanukovych and other officials over "mass murder of peaceful citizens".

MPs voted to remove Yanukovych on Saturday after months of protest sparked by his rejection of an EU deal.

A crackdown on the protests last week left dozens dead.

"An official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened," Avakov said in his statement. "Yanukovych and other people responsible for this have been declared wanted."

The statement said Yanukovych was last seen in Balaklava on the Crimean peninsula on Sunday, but that he had left by car for an unknown destination, accompanied by an aide.

Before leaving Balaklava he gave his state-appointed security detail the choice to leave him, with many choosing to do so, the statement said. It did not say which other figures were covered by the warrant.

Avakov was appointed interim interior minister on Saturday, in a day of fast-paced events in parliament. He replaced Vitaly Zakharchenko, who was sacked the day before after being blamed for the deaths of civilians in the crackdown on protesters.

Avakov and Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, who was appointed by the interim authorities to oversee security matters, have travelled to Crimea to defuse tensions, according to media reports.

The peninsula is an autonomous region, where the majority of the population is ethnically Russian. It has seen protests against the overthrow of Yanukovych.

Avakov said it was "very important not to provoke anybody with excessive emotions", and that there should be "no repetition of the picture of confrontation that we saw in Kyiv when the authorities went against the people".

"I think that through peaceful dialogue we can return everything to a state of calm," the 5 Kanal TV station quoted him as saying.

The protests first began in late November when Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

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