Arrest warrant issued for former Ukrainian president

by | Feb 24, 2014 | News

by Kait Morris

KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Barricade with the protesters at Hrushevskogo street on January 26, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.  Courtesy Sasha Maksymenko

A barricade with the protesters at Hrushevskogo street on January 26, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Courtesy Sasha Maksymenko

An arrest warrant has been issued for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovycvh.

According to the Kyiv Post, Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page on Monday morning that the former President is wanted for “mass killings of civilians.”

It is assumed that the warrant has been issued in connection with the investigation into whether Yanukovych hired snipers and ordered riot police to fire on protesters during demonstrations.

Avakov is considered the country’s top police representative. Arrest warrants have not only been issued for the former president, but for other former unnamed government officials, too.

The Party of Regions, a group associated with the former president, released a statement on Sunday condemning Yanukovych’s actions during the uprisings.

Nearly 100 civilians have been killed in Ukraine during demonstrations that began in December.

“The violence and threat of violence has decreased significantly,” Ivan Katchanovski, political science professor at the University of Ottawa, told Humber News in an email. “But there are still some violent confrontations in certain regions in the East and in the South. Another escalation of the violence is still a possibility, specifically in Eastern and Southern regions, like the Crimea.”

“Paramilitary units, a significant part of which is controlled by the far right Pravi Sektor, are still not disbanded. The far right paramilitaries played a key role in violent attacks of the presidential administration and the parliament before last Thursday,” he added.

Elmar Brok, president of European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, told a Ukrainian television station the European Union is prepared to offer 20 billion Euros ($30.38 billion CAD) to support Ukraine’s reforms.

“It is unlikely that Ukraine would become a liberal democracy with rule of law like Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the Baltic States in the immediate future,” said Katchanovksi. “Instead, a semi-democratic unstable political system similar to Moldova, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan is a much more likely outcome.”

Katchanovksi said there are already opposition oligarchs poised to replace those of the old regime.

“Many of the leaders of the new government are members of the old elite with the major exception of far right Svoboda and Pravyi Sektor.”

Yanukovych left Kyiv by helicopter on Feb. 21 intending to participate in the Party of Regions congress in Kharkiv.

The next day, Yanukoych chose not to participate in the congress and refused to resign. Later, parliament voted to impeach him and strip him of his powers.

On Feb. 23, parliament voted to temporarily hand over presidential power to Oleksandr Turchinov, the speaker of Ukraine’s Parliament.

According to the International Business Times, opposition self-defence units occupied Yanukovych’s abandoned residence and are said to have found evidence of corruption in it’s opulent furnishings and documents located there. The units opened the residence to visitors and used activists to prevent looting and property damage.

Yanukovych was last seen in Crimea’s Balaklava district, where he dismissed his secret service guards. The U.S. warned foreign powers to stay out of Ukraine:

A warning that seems pointed towards Russia, who are currently refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the new government.