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
- 28.04.2017Russia's PM Medvedev thanks Turkish premier for help in evacuating crew of wrecked ship
- 27.04.201713 people indicted for theft from EU Armenia delegation grant funds - UPDATED
- 26.04.2017Russia says U.S. missile strike on Syria was a threat to its forces
- 26.04.2017Sixth Moscow conference on int’l security kicks off
- 25.04.2017Russian schoolboy hospitalized after being attacked by lion
- 24.04.2017Georgian first lady’s brother sentenced to 4 years in prison
- 24.04.2017Mogherini: EU still has disagreements with Russia on Ukraine issue
- 22.04.2017Russian serviceman killed in Armenia
- 21.04.2017Protest staged outside government building in Yerevan
- 21.04.2017Over half of Russians want Lenin’s body to be buried - poll
- 21.04.2017Unidentified gunman opens fire in FSB office in Russia’s Khabarovsk
- 21.04.2017Russian army pilots in Armenia hold night trainings
- 21.04.2017State of counter-terror operation imposed in two districts in Dagestan
- 20.04.2017Russia says metro bomber funded by 'international terrorists' in Turkey
- 20.04.2017Russia’s FSB close to establishing instigator of St. Petersburg metro attack
- 19.04.2017FSB detains brother of St. Petersburg metro attack suspect
- 19.04.2017Russian journalist dies after attack in St. Petersburg
- 19.04.2017Ukrainian MP slams Zaporozhye regional council for “Armenian genocide” statement
- 19.04.2017Russia's FSB eliminates two Central Asian would-be terrorists in Vladimir region
- 19.04.2017OSCE Secretary General, Russian FM to mull Karabakh conflict
- 19.04.2017US F-22 fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian strategic bombers near Alaska
- 18.04.2017Russian president congratulates Turkish counterpart on outcome of Turkey's Constitutional Referendum
- 18.04.2017Russia puts Moscow air defenses on high alert
- 18.04.2017Normandy Four states point out importance of Easter ceasefire in Donbass
- 17.04.2017Suspected organizer of St. Petersburg metro attack detained near Moscow
- 17.04.2017Russia to open embassy in self-proclaimed “Republic of Abkhazia”
- 14.04.2017Armenian opposition appeals to Constitutional Court to annul outcome of elections
- 14.04.2017Yuri Khachaturov appointed CSTO Secretary General
- 14.04.2017MP comments on Baku mosque demolition case
- 14.04.2017Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers hold trilateral talks
- 14.04.2017Eurasian Economic Union endorses Moldova’s application for observer status
- 14.04.2017St.Peterburg teenager seriously injured as bomb goes off in his hands
- 13.04.2017Russian and Turkish presidents hold phone conversation
- 13.04.2017Belarus pays off $726 mln gas debt to Russia's Gazprom
- 13.04.2017Former head of Russia's Mari El Republic detained over suspected bribe-taking
- 12.04.2017Russia’s top diplomat demands probe into Syrian chemical attack
- 12.04.2017Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson
- 12.04.2017Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers to meet in Moscow
- 12.04.2017Putin: Almost half of foreign Islamic State militants are from CIS countries
- 12.04.2017Putin vows he won’t allow color revolutions in Russia
- 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