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Interfax: Ukraine's Yanukovych Says He Will Not Resign

Embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says he will not resign or leave Ukraine, and has called the violent uprising against him an example of a "coup."

The Russian news agency Interfax reported Mr. Yanukovych made the remarks in an interview Saturday with a Ukrainian television station. Interfax also quoted him as saying all decisions made by Ukraine's parliament Saturday were illegal.

The report did not specify Mr. Yanukovych's whereabouts, but a dateline on the television interview read Kharkiv, a northeastern Ukrainian city.

Parliament on Saturday voted to dismiss Mr. Yanukovych and called for early presidential elections on May 25. Parliament also voted to immediately free jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister. She is serving time in a prison hospital for abuse of power.

Also Saturday, opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko urged the president to resign so early elections can be held no later than May.

Crowds massed near Ukraine's parliament building Saturday to demand the immediate resignation of Mr. Yanukovich. Thousands of protesters remained in Kyiv's Independence Square, objecting to a deal signed Friday by Ukraine's president and the opposition aimed at ending the country's political crisis.



U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday to discuss Ukraine. A White House official said both leaders agree on the need to quickly implement the deal and encourage all sides to avoid violence.

Friday's agreement returns Ukraine to its 2004 constitution, limiting presidential powers. The deal also includes setting up a coalition government and early elections.

Protests erupted in Ukraine in November when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia.

The protests began peacefully but descended into violence earlier this month. Nearly 100 people have been killed, including some protesters who were shot in the head by police snipers.

Along with early elections, the deal signed Friday would replace Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko, who the opposition blames for the deaths of protesters. It amends the criminal code to allow for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.

On Saturday, parliament also elected a new speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, a longtime ally of Ms. Tymoshenko. Turchynov was elected soon after pro-government speaker Volodymyr Rybak submitted his resignation, citing ill health.

Ukraine is split between those in the east who favor ties with Russia, and those in the west who lean toward the European Union.
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