News / Europe

    Runaway President: What Are Yanukovych's Options?

    FILE -Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych takes part in a news conference in Kyiv, December 19, 2013.
    FILE -Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych takes part in a news conference in Kyiv, December 19, 2013.
    Ukrainian protesters have called for his death.

    The country's interim leaders have issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of "mass murder." And now, lawmakers want to drag him before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

    But the main question remains: Where is Viktor Yanukovych?

    Rumors about his whereabouts have been swirling since the ousted president fled Kyiv on the night of February 21-22 after apparently evading security forces by fleeing his luxurious estate outside the capital by helicopter.


    • People walk around Viktor Yanukovych's countryside residence in Mezhyhirya, outside Kyiv, Feb, 22, 2014.
    • People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • A man gestures behind the interior bar of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • A man holds one of Viktor Yanukovych's golf clubs at the golf course on Yanukovych's countryside residence in Mezhyhirya, Feb, 22, 2014.
    • People walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds in the village Novi Petrivtsi, Feb. 22, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters and journalists look at ostriches kept on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Viktor Yanukovych, Feb. 22, 2014.

    Yanukovych reemerged the next day in a television interview from an undisclosed location -- initially reported to be in the northeastern city of Kharkiv -- maintaining that he was still the president and comparing the protesters who overthrew him to Nazis.

    Since then, there have been no confirmed sightings.

    Some say he sought refuge in a monastery outside the eastern city of Donetsk. Others believed he was smuggled into a Russian naval base in Sevastopol or escaped on a luxury yacht from the Black Sea port of Balaclava.

    With his political allies turning away from him in droves, Yanukovych's options are quickly narrowing.

    Safe havens?

    There is speculation that he was granted refuge in Russia, whose leadership rejects the interim government born out of Ukraine's bloody three-month protests as illegitimate.

    But Moscow's support of Yanukovych has been lukewarm at best, and many in Russia believe the Kremlin is unwilling to jeopardize its high-stakes relations with Ukraine by granting him asylum.

    "Moscow will not, and in my opinion should not, act as a benefactor for Yanukovych and his family," says Maksim Shevchenko, a prominent Russian journalist and television presenter, who is seen as pro-Kremlin.

    "He inspires hatred and contempt in all layers of Ukrainian society. Today, to openly support Yanukovych is to defy the Ukrainian people. In spite of Ukraine's political problems and of the fact that there are some political forces in Ukraine that are unacceptable for Moscow – the national socialists – I think Moscow wants to retain some levers of influence in Ukraine."

    Another country touted as a possible safe haven for Yanukovych is Belarus, whose authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka gave refuge to deposed Kyrgyz President Kurmambek Bakiev in 2010.

    Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitshchko reportedly cautioned Lukashenka in a telephone conversation against giving sanctuary to Yanukovych or anyone from his disgraced entourage.

    The odds of Yanukovych turning up in Minsk, however, seem slim.

    "Lukashenka wasn't on very good terms with Yanukovych," says Yury Drakakhrust, a political correspondent for RFE/RL's Belarus Service. "As strange as it may seem, he had much friendlier relations with the first Maidan leader, [Viktor] Yushchenko. Belarus and Ukraine also have an important trade volume. As for the asylum he granted to Bakiev, it was an attempt to show some authority in Central Asia. But in this region, it's wise not to get in Russia's way. So by taking in Yanukovych, Lukashenka has nothing to win and much to lose."

    Trail Goes Cold

    Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who has been leading the manhunt for Yanukovych, said the deposed president and his bodyguards had attempted to flee Ukraine from Donetsk.

    "He tried to fly out,"Avakov wrote in a Facebook post. "The border service prevented their take-off."

    According to Avakov, Yanukovych then drove to a state residence in Donetsk before heading to Crimea late on February 22.

    The trail goes cold in Balaclava. This is where the ousted leader is said to have discharged the bulk of his security personnel before driving away in an unknown direction, escorted by a handful of loyal guards.

    Ukraine's new leaders are determined to thwart his dash for freedom and bring him to justice for the deaths of more than 80 protesters.

    The first step may be to ensure his safety.

    Andriy Klyuyev, the former head of Yanukovych's administration and one of the men who fled Kyiv with him, was reportedly assaulted by a group of 20 unidentified assailants on February 24 on his way back to Kyiv.

    Reports say Klyuyev has been hospitalized after sustaining a severe gunshot wound in the attack.

    Yelena Rykovtseva from RFE/RL's Russian Service contributed to this report from Moscow.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.