News / Europe

Ukraine MPs: Yanukovych Must Stand Trial

  • Members of self-defense units react after demolishing a fence enclosing the parliament building in Kyiv, Feb. 26, 2014.
  • A member of a self-defense unit saws a fence enclosing the parliament building in Kyiv, Feb. 26, 2014.
  • Anti-Yanukovych protesters march in the Independence Square, Kyiv, Feb. 26, 2014.
  • A woman cries at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 26, 2014.
  • An anti-Yanukovych protester cries near a memorial for the people killed in clashes in Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 25, 2014.
  • An anti-Yanukovych protester, wearing a Ukrainian flag with the name of his village written across it, places flowers at a memorial for the people killed in clashes in Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 25, 2014.
  • Flowers are seen placed at a barricade in Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • People lay flowers at the barricades in memory of the victims of the recent clashes in central Kyiv, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • An opposition supporter cries near a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Independence Square in Kyiv, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Opposition supporters warm themselves around a fire as they guard one of the streets heading to Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Opposition supporters warm themselves around a fire in Kyiv's Independence Square, Feb. 24, 2014.
VOA NewsRFE/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.
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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.
  • 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.

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Comments
     
by: Bill King from: Australia
February 25, 2014 8:07 PM
Why do western political leaders and news sources ignore the fact that Viktor Yanukovych was elected, fair and square, in the 2010 election with 49% of the vote compared to his opponent's 45%. He is the legitimate president of the Ukraine. In a democracy elected officials receive the verdict of the electorate in the following election which was scheduled for next year. It is not legitimate to remove elected presidents or other officials by armed insurrection and I can't think of any democracy in the west where this would be considered acceptable in any way: it certainly would not be tolerated in my country, Australia. It is no surprise that he was not popular in Kiev where he only received 25% of the vote, however, in some regions he gained over 90%. What is necessary for democracy to work is that all citizens accept the verdict of the electorate. It is nauseating to witness the gross opportunism of the US and the EU in their undisguised support for this rightist coup by the Fatherland Party.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
February 25, 2014 3:29 PM
We wait knowing Putin is yet to act against a free nation as usual.

by: Ivgeny K. from: Russia
February 25, 2014 11:36 AM
I agree with Dr. M. Marina, - what we have in the Ukraine is a collection of fascist organizations that will soon start to kill each other. Ukraine is in the middle of a global disintegration that will effect the whole of Russia. The Russians are not cohesive people; we are some sort of combination of many different people who have been brutalized and terrorized to live in subdued resentment. But all that is changing now... i also agree with the Dr. from Finland that Putin has lost control and is presiding over a Russian disintegration... there is no way to reverse the clock...

by: birdman from: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
February 25, 2014 11:35 AM
One key point I remember from a recent BBC World Have Your Say show was the comment by a Ukrainian woman that the freedom of Russia is the freedom one finds in a graveyard. Russia's response to the fully democratic, and fully legitimate, actions by the Ukrainian parliament have been highly unfortunate, deceitful, conniving, transparent, over-reaching, petty, shallow, unhelpful, and wrong headed - Russia's actions again that is.

Back in the USSR, or is it Imperialist Russia? Raising the "genocide" red herring canard is nothing more than outright fear mongering. Ukraine is a country which deserves to make it's own way. Was it just hooligans on Independence Square? No. Retired pensioners were there helping out the freedom fighting students. 99% of them were just regular people fighting against a dictatorial strong man & his regime.

We've seen this happen before, in other former Soviet republics. We should cheer freedom when it breaks forth in yet another place. A coup? Hardly. Rather for Ukraine it has been: a fully democratic response by an elected parliament. Period. Full stop.

by: Emily Calmeyer from: California
February 25, 2014 10:53 AM
Ukraine's vote to send Yanukovych to the ICC illustrates the difficulty with arresting and bringing suspected war criminals and former leaders in front of the Court. It may be challenging to arrest him when he is a fugitive on the run. His arrest will depend on whether other countries afford him resources and a safe haven, or if they participate in international justice efforts. There's an interesting discussion even now on www.iccforum.com/arrest on how the ICC can better ensure that suspected war criminals are arrested and come before Court.

by: Ciaran Mulcahy. from: Dublin, Ireland.
February 25, 2014 10:19 AM
It is, and has been the belief of many United Kingdom experts on Russia for several centuries, that Russia regards its nation as constantly being threatened by outsiders. This has not always been the case, but the instances where it has been true,, have been enough to convince the Russians, before, during, and after the communist era, that their suspicions of all non Russians toward Russia, validly apply to all non Russians.

Seldom has their been a situation which on one side could re-ignite a cold-war, and even instigate a hot-war; while, on the other side, offer the greatest opportunity to bring the Russian nation in from the cold not merely of the 'cold-war', but also in from the isolation which they have continually believed has been a general world policy against Russia, for several centuries..

The most amazing way in which to convince the Russian nation of the genuineness of the world outside of Russia, towards Russia, would be to:merge NATO., CENTO., SEATO., ANZAC., etcetera, with all the member-states of the former Warsaw Pact alliance, and risk making the sincere offer of the post of Chief Executive Officer, to a Russian. The reason this risk is absolutely unavoidable is due to the nature of the problems afflicting Ukraine.

The Soviet Union occupied the Ukraine; the Third Reich forces chose to do likewise. Terrible consequences resulted, and whether we acknowledge that Russia is no longer communist, or whether we don't acknowledge this, the fact remains, that the consequences of not seizing the moment by making an astonishing offer to Russia, would be imminently likely to result in the re-igniting of conflicts which should be abandoned to the defunct twentieth-century.

by: Dr. Masta Marina from: Finland
February 25, 2014 8:37 AM
please guys... the Ukraine doesn't know what the hell it wants. You must bear in mind that now the Ukraine has no Government - no one is actually legitimately in a position to guide the country. What we do have in Ukraine is a collection of Idiots and Fascists - and the Russian population in Ukraine is in fear of genocide... and that is a legitimate fear...!! and Putin is exposed as some sort of irrelevant clown. The next time you will see Putin bare chested it will be on an autopsy table...

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