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Ukraine MPs: Yanukovych Must Stand Trial

  • VOA News
  • RFE/RL

Ukraine's parliament voted on Tuesday to send fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych to be tried for 'serious crimes' by the International Criminal Court once he has been captured.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Yanukovych, who was ousted on Saturday and is now on the run, to police violence against protesters which it said had led to the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states.

The resolution said former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka, who are also being sought by the authorities, should also be sent for trial at the ICC, based in The Hague.

The court says it needs a request from Ukraine's government giving it jurisdiction to investigate Yanukovych and others over deaths during the protests.

Photos of some of those killed are posted at a memorial in Kyiv's Independence Square on Feb. 25, 2014.

Photos of some of those killed are posted at a memorial in Kyiv's Independence Square on Feb. 25, 2014.

Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday also delayed plans to elect a new national unity government until Thursday. Parliament speaker and acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, made the announcement when the legislature was due to unveil its new leaders. However, local media is reporting that members of the interim government might be announced as early as 7 p.m. Wednesday Kyiv time.

Turchynov expressed concern at a meeting on Tuesday about threats to the country's unity in mainly Russian-speaking Crimea. This followed protests on the southern peninsula against the leaders who have taken charge.

"We discussed the question of not allowing any signs of separatism and threats to Ukraine's territorial integrity and punishing people guilty of this,'' he said in a statement, referring to pro-Russian protests in Crimea.

EU's Ashton vows support

The EU's Catherine Ashton meets with former Ukrainian leader Yulia Tymoshenko in Kyiv on Feb. 25, 2014.

The EU's Catherine Ashton meets with former Ukrainian leader Yulia Tymoshenko in Kyiv on Feb. 25, 2014.

The European Union's foreign policy chief is promising strong international support for Ukraine as it works to form a new government

Catherine Ashton spoke at a news conference Tuesday during a visit to Kyiv.

She said Western financial institutions are working on ways to help Ukraine's economy recover from three months of political protests.

"We are here to say very simply, we want to support and help this country to stay strong, to go forward in the way it chooses, and to offer our support in achieving that," Ashton said.

She also urged Russia to let Ukraine find its own way out of its political crisis.

"We know and understand the strong trade links that have existed with Russia, the strong links that need to exist with Russia in the future and that message needs to be widely understood," Ashton said. "We also think it is very important to send a strong message about the territorial integrity, and the unity, and the independence of Ukraine.''

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met Tuesday in Moscow with Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine's ambassador to Russia, and raised questions "connected to the safety of Russian citizens and diplomatic representatives on the territory of Ukraine."

And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country has reaffirmed its position of "non-interference in Ukrainian affairs," but is also calling for national dialogue and a return of the rule of law. During a news conference in Moscow, he said Russia wants to prevent the influence of "extremists and nationalists," who he said were trying to play a leading role in Ukraine.

WATCH: Live feed of Kyiv from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:


Top US official expected in Kyiv

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns was due to arrive in Ukraine Tuesday. He is expected to meet with acting President Turchynov and members of parliament.

The State Department said Burns "will urge the new government to take all steps necessary for free and fair presidential elections in May." Burns is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country since U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met antigovernment protesters in Kyiv in December.

Republican Senator John McCain said in Washington Tuesday that he hoped for a very quick fix for Ukraine's economy.

"Do not underestimate Vladimir Putin's belief that Ukraine is part of Russia," McCain warned. "He is not going to give up easily. And if we can get an economic package through very quickly to start restoring the economy of Ukraine, then that will lessen people's...allegiance to Russia."

Ukraine is divided between those who want the country to favor relations with Europe and those who want closer ties with Russia. Ousted president Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the EU in November, setting off protests that led to him being kicked out of office.

Yanukovych's party issued a statement Monday blaming him for the surge of deadly violence that wracked the capital in recent weeks.

Ukrainian protesters took control of the ousted president's offices in Kyiv on Saturday. Others let themselves onto the grounds of his lavish, but secret, estate outside Kyiv. Some expressed astonishment that one person could have so much while others in Ukraine have nothing.

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