Ukraine Protestors Seize Kiev As President Flees

President Yanukovych escapes to eastern power base of Kharkiv and refuses to resign

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Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Anti-government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on Feb. 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.

Updated 11:06am EST

Ukraine’s beleaguered President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev Saturday as protestors took full control of Ukraine’s capital, signaling a dramatic turn in the three-month crisis just hours after the signing of an European Union-sponsored peace deal.

As police abandoned their posts across the capital, the opposition established control over key intersections and captured the presidential palace, setting up a perimeter around Yanukovych’s former residence, reports the Associated Press. Ukraine’s parliament passed a resolution stating Yanukovych “is removing himself [from power] because he is not fulfilling his obligations,” and voted to hold early presidential elections on May 25.

(PHOTOSProtesters Frolic In Ukrainian President’s Abandoned House)

Yanukovych fled to the eastern city of Kharkiv where he traditionally has a more solid base of support, and announced on television he would not resign.

“I am not leaving the country for anywhere. I do not intend to resign. I am the legitimately elected president,” Yanukovych said, in a televised speech. Thousands of anti-Yanukovych protestors took to streets in Kharkiv, chanting “Ukraine is not Russia!”

In Kiev, the parliament also voted to release opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko from jail, where she had been serving a bitterly contested sentence for abuse of power. Tymoshenko emerged from a prison hospital where she had been treated for a back injury to cheers from supporters.

Russia, the president’s staunchest ally, condemned the opposition’s moves. “The opposition has not only failed to meet a single one of its obligations, but is also pushing new demands, submitting itself to armed extremists and looters whose actions pose a direct threat to the sovereignty and constitutional order of Ukraine,” said a statement from the Russian foreign ministry.

After fears during this week’s violence that Yanukovych would call a state of emergency and mobilize the military against anti-government protestors, the Army announced Saturday “it will in no way become involved in the political conflict,” according to the Agence France-Presse. Police said earlier that they were “at the service of the people” and “completely shares its aspirations for rapid changes.”

As part of the Western-brokered agreement some opposition leaders signed Friday, elections in Ukraine would be moved up from March 2015 to December 2014 at the latest, but many protestors said they wanted nothing short of Yanukovych’s immediate resignation.

The agreement arose out of the worst violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history, when over a hundred died in Kiev’s streets in pitched battles between protestors and police. 

[AP]

42 comments
Jeffrey Wu
Jeffrey Wu

Western-backed peace deal aimed at e̶n̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶v̶i̶o̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶ expanding the influence of the American hegemony. There, FTFY.

Gintare Jewelry
Gintare Jewelry

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Gintare Jewelry
Gintare Jewelry

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Olga Rbl
Olga Rbl

Good thing they've joined the forces to start patrolling the streets. The # 1 task is to stop loitering and violence.

Yanina Volovod
Yanina Volovod

Trolls here as well, international community, please make sense for yourself if you care about Ukrainian revolution. There are real people who fight with corruption and dictatorship.

stevek77536
stevek77536

"President Yanukovych said Saturday he would not vacate his position, even after protestors seized control of the capital and parliament voted to strip him of his powers"  Sounds like Monty Python's Black Knight: "OK, we'll call it a draw."

Vivian Garcia
Vivian Garcia

Somehow you smell right. At least that's my feeling "fear" No need to hate them because I'm one of them, but I came looking for refugee from the mistreatment I suffered while among them. Today I see some of those here and I ask myself, what's wrong with Americans? Are they blind? Blinded by who? There is a need to stop their "legal immigration" Soooooooo focus on illegal immigrants, but they can't make a difference, Cubans can, they have done it, and they promised to keep doing it.

J.r. Rogers
J.r. Rogers

You are misguided by Eastern Ukraine instigators Nathan. Do you really think these people would charge live gunfire to join an integrated EU if they were racist Nazis? They could simply go with Russia if they wanted to live in a white society. Putin wants to rebuild the old USSR so he plunked down billions to buy the Ukrainian government, who then did a 180 degree turn from what they were elected for. I don't blame them for wanting to keep the freedom they gained in 1991. There are hours of Kiev video on liveleak.com, where you can see the heroic efforts to simply recover bodies of dead and wounded are met with yet more sniping.

Scott Kendra
Scott Kendra

whos going to operate the sewage dept., lets hope they thought of that

David Fitzgerald
David Fitzgerald

Not long now before the Irish get rid of it's Dictator and it's Government, Watch out Freedom is coming to a City near you Well done people of Ukraine.........

Nathan Daniel Adams
Nathan Daniel Adams

@nadia sayenko yup that's why they are carrying around white power and SS written on their homemade shield ? It's pretty disgusting to see John macain supporting them

Nadia Sayenko
Nadia Sayenko

Dont give opinions of things you know nothing about, just makes you sound ignorant

Ariel Ballentine
Ariel Ballentine

Those protesters are bunch of neo nazis ,western government should not support them

jalangaya
jalangaya

If foreign-sponsored terrorists invaded Washington, burned government buildings, shot policemen, and demanded regime-change, would Obama retreat to Chicago, or call out the troops to crush rebellion? Just wondering....

Vijay Banga
Vijay Banga

A truce of sorts but palpable distrust is invisibly visible

Vivian Garcia
Vivian Garcia

CNN IS ABOUT TO BE expelled from Venezuela and the Cuban government that invaded Venezuela is also invading the USA by putting every year thousands of leftist Cubans in American territory. Those Cubans become citizens in only 5 years and they are shaping up America. What is the government of the US doing? Who is behind all that? AMERICA IS IN DANGER! WE HAVE TO: Start voiding the Cuban Adjustment Act if you want to stop the silent, leftist, authorized and encouraged Cuban immigration to the USA. An immigration that even though is illegal people like Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ross-Lethinen, Diaz-Balart, and others found their way to make it legal. That Powerful Cuban political machine in the USA knows that the sneaky communist immigration is the one that is set up to destroy America from the inside out, That immigration is already the minority that has two prospect Cuban American presidents for 2016. A massive Cuban immigration that already changed Florida from red to blue, that promised to do the same with Texas and that is already draining blood in Venezuela. And behind all this is the Cuban Army and the Cuban counterintelligence making sure that Venezuela could keep feeding them. The cry now is, CUBANS GET OUT OF VENEZUELA! In the future our cry will be, CUBANS GET OUT OF THE USA! What is a fact is that Cubans are in Venezuela and that Venezuela is a divided country, a country in distress because of the Cuban invasion. The American future...... What is going to be? http://politicalanalysis2011.blogspot.com/2011/02/preferential-treatment-of-cuban.html

Kathleen McNally
Kathleen McNally

They are not protesters. They broke truce twice. Call it a coupe or takeover. That's what it is.

Farhâd Keyvân
Farhâd Keyvân

why didn't the West do the same for us Iranians in 2009?

vetramon
vetramon

Won what, Paloma?  Freedom comes from the unanimity of accords, namely, democracy. When you don't respect this accord, you break the fine line of respect for the people that disagrees with you and you are in command if you possess, not the logic of the accords, but the arms and the power of your illogic hatred. So again, What did the minority of the people win destroying democracy, Paloma?

vetramon
vetramon

Wow, can you name the new Soviet Union of your comment?

VladdeWacko
VladdeWacko

any ukrainian with half brains wouldnt want to join EU

sonik555
sonik555

First of all, you are an absolute ignorant idiot 

Second of all no one is talking about accepting Ukraine to EU right away, these procedures take years. 

vetramon
vetramon

Weak, very weak memories, Fahad. Did you forget when the USA brought down an elected Prime Minister and installed your beloved Shah?  Wow, How soon they forget!