Ukraine president ousted, ex-PM freed from jail

Ukraine president ousted, ex-PM freed from jail
Sun Feb 23, 2014 13:47:17

Ukraine parliament has voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from power only hours after his escape from Kiev to the northeastern city of Kharkov, while jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been released.

Yanukovych was impeached by 328 of the 447 lawmakers on Saturday, accusing him of abusing his powers and being constitutionally unable to carry out his responsibilities.

The lawmakers also endorsed May 25 as the date to hold early presidential elections following the defection of Yanukovych's loyalists in the parliament.

The vote came just after Yanukovych said he wouldn’t respect any decisions made by the parliament, rejecting them as illegitimate.

But when he left Kiev for Kharkov and abandoned his presidential office, the opposition forces seized the occasion and parliament appointed high-level officials.

Speaking in a televised address from Kharkov, Yanukovych stressed that he has no intention of resigning or leaving the country, saying the events resembled the rise of Nazis in the 1930s.

"The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d’état," he said.

However, Yanukovych’s authority was dismantled irrespective of his defiance with his cabinet promising a smooth transition to a new government.

The parliament elected Oleksandr Turchynov, a close ally of Tymoshenko, as its new speaker.

Another Tymoshenko ally, Arsen Avakov, was appointed interim interior minister, replacing Vitaly Zakharchenko, who was sacked on Friday after being blamed for the deaths of civilians in last week's crackdown on protests.

Ukrainian news agencies, citing the deputy head of the State Border Service, reported that a chartered airplane with Yanukovych on board was denied permission to take off from Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is the president's base of support.

The center of Kiev, meanwhile, was calm as the sun came up Sunday after a day that saw a stunning reversal of fortune in Ukraine's political crisis.

Ukraine's army ruled out any involvement in the current crisis rocking the country, just hours after the police pledged its support to the people following deadly violence in anti-government protests this week.


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