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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid