Ukraine's Yanukovich blames radicals for bloodshed at Maidan protests
Baku-APA. Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovich on Monday blamed armed nationalist radicals for fomenting violence in the 2014 Maidan protests that led to scores of protesters being killed and ultimately prompted him to flee into exile, APA reports quoting Reuters.
His testimony to a Ukrainian court via a video link from neighboring Russia was the first time Ukrainian authorities could question the pro-Kremlin leader in relation to the fatal shootings of demonstrators in Kiev nearly three years ago.
He appeared as a witness rather than an accused in the trial of five riot police officers accused of murder, angering many Ukrainians who want to see him in the dock. Around 15-20 protesters were outside the court as the session began.
Yanukovich used the 6 hour televised proceedings to defend his actions in the final months of his presidency. He called his ousting a "coup", denied giving orders for police to fire at protesters and said he was trying to prevent bloodshed.
Questioned on specifics, he said he couldn't remember whether he had spoken to Russian leader Vladimir Putin by phone during the Maidan protests or whether he had met a close Putin aide at his residence around the same time.
Asked if he had signed a request for Russian troops to invade Ukraine, he deferred the question to his lawyer. Information about the shootings of protesters had first come to him via the media. He said the new authorities had destroyed crucial evidence of what really happened at Maidan.
"Different provocations escalated the situation. Radicals and those who manipulated them were guilty. They provoked the bloodshed"," he said, adding later that all the leaders at Maidan protests carried political responsibility for the deaths.
"It was reported that the shooting was being conducted from buildings that were under the opposition's control. I did not give any order to shoot," he said.
Yanukovich escaped Kiev in the final days of the Maidan protests, which installed a Western-backed leadership and lit the fuse for Moscow's annexation of Crimea and a separatist conflict in the mainly Russian-speaking east.
More than 100 demonstrators were killed in the three months of protests in Maidan square - 48 allegedly shot by police snipers who Ukrainian authorities say received direct orders from Yanukovich.
He is being investigated on suspicion of mass murder in a separate case.
Ukraine's General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko stood up in the courtroom during a break in Monday's proceedings to read out a statement accusing Yanukovich of treason.
Related news releases
- 23.03.2017Former member of Russia’s State Duma gunned down in Kiev
- 23.03.2017Depot fire in Ukraine's Kharkiv caused by sabotage - military prosecutor - UPDATED
- 23.03.2017Ukraine says sanctions on Russian banks to start from Thursday
- 22.03.2017Former 'defense minister' of so-called NK Republic detained
- 22.03.2017Russia’s Eurovision contestant may be banned from entering Ukraine for 3 years
- 19.03.2017Clashes occur between demonstrators and police in Yerevan
- 19.03.20172,000 protest against St.Isaac Cathedral’s transfer to Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg
- 18.03.2017No explosives found at Moscow railway station after bomb threat call
- 17.03.2017Russia issues int’l arrest warrant for Baku-born woman over alleged involvement in armed groups
- 17.03.2017Blast at coke factory in Zaporizhya claims four lives
- 17.03.2017A protest action takes place in the center of Yerevan
- 16.03.2017Ukraine's national bank proposes sanctions against Russian banks
- 16.03.2017Russia to assist Armenia-Turkey talks – Lavrov
- 16.03.2017Moscow believes restoration of co-op with Ankara will serve stability in South Caucasus
- 15.03.2017Putin, Sargsyan meet in Moscow
- 15.03.2017Liberal Democrats walk out of Duma session after corruption row with United Russia
- 15.03.2017Russia's Lavrov slams allegations of Moscow’s new imperial ambition as hoax
- 15.03.2017Russian special services prevented a major terrorist attack planned in Moscow
- 15.03.2017Putin, Sargsyan to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement
- 14.03.2017Kremlin: No decision on Russian UN ambassador candidacy as of yet
- 13.03.2017Russia’s representative may be banned from Eurovision 2017 in Kiev
- 13.03.2017Military exercises launched in Russia’s south
- 12.03.2017Astana ready to host talks on Syria on March 14-15 - Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry
- 11.03.2017Moscow cinema evacuated over bomb alert
- 10.03.2017Putin: "I'd like to emphasize that we view Turkey as our key partner"
- 10.03.2017Turkish Stream to increase Turkey’s transit potential – Putin
- 10.03.2017Putin, Erdogan holding meeting in Moscow
- 09.03.2017Telman Ismailov officially declared bankrupt
- 09.03.2017Russia’s Putin sacks 10 generals
- 09.03.2017Two Armenian businessmen shot dead in Russia
- 09.03.2017Lavrov: No conflict can be resolved without US involvement
- 07.03.2017Avian influence outbreak reported in Russia
- 07.03.2017Putin pardons Russian woman convicted of high treason
- 07.03.2017Armenian president departs for France on official visit
- 06.03.2017Former deputy commander-in-chief of Russia's Internal Troops arrested
- 06.03.2017Russia hopes Caspian littoral countries to reach agreement on status issue
- 03.03.2017Armenian soldiers injured at military position identified - UPDATED
- 03.03.2017Russian general seriously wounded in Syria
- 03.03.2017Ukraine’s tax chief suspected of embezzling near $73 million
- 03.03.2017Ukrainian minister of Azerbaijani background Roman Nasirov detained
- 30.11.2016Russia threatened Ukraine with missile strikes: sources
- 30.11.2016Kremlin expects Ankara’s explanation on Erdogan’s statement on Syria
- 30.11.2016Putin says establishing relations with Trump is crucial for whole world
- 25.11.2016Ex-President Yanukovych says supports Ukraine's territorial integrity
- 25.11.2016Putin presents Russian passport to Hollywood actor Seagal
- 25.11.2016Ivan Mikoyan, co-creator of iconic MiG-29, dies aged 89