Ukraine's Yanukovich wanted for mass murder, on the run

by Reuters
Monday, 24 February 2014 09:05 GMT

(Adds Yanukovich's whereabouts, movements)

KIEV, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Ousted president Viktor Yanukovich has been placed on Ukraine's wanted list for mass murder, the acting interior minister said on Monday on his Facebook profile.

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

Yanukovich, 63, fled the capital Kiev by helicopter on Friday amid a revolt against his rule after three days of conflict in which more than 80 people were killed. He was in the pro-Russian Crimea region late on Sunday night, Avakov said.

Since Friday night he has zig-zagged, with his head of administration Andriy Klyuev, from Kiev to Kharkiv in the east, then on to his stronghold in Donetsk where border guards stopped him flying out. Then he went on to the Crimean peninsula.

According to Avakov's account of events, Yanukovich, after hearing he had been officially replaced in his presidential duties, headed for Belbek military airport in Crimea.

He then went in another direction after learning that the new heads of the interior ministry and state security service were waiting for him there.

At a private residence in Balaclava region, he gathered his security guards together and gave them a choice either to stay with him or leave, relinquishing protection from state-appointed bodyguards, Avakov said.

Some left him, taking with them official state-registered weapons to hand over to the authorities in Crimea.

"With the remaining bodyguards, Yanukovich, accompanied by Klyuev, left in three cars for an unknown destination, having shut down all communication systems," Avakov said.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Writing by Richard Balmforth, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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