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article imageUkrainian president Yanukovich flees as opposition controls Kiev

By Ken Hanly     Feb 22, 2014 in Politics
Kiev - Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich appears to have lost control of the government and the presidential offices have been vacated. A number of security bodies and police have pledged not to enter conflict with the people.
In a deal on Friday, Yanukovich agreed to early elections among other concessions, but this turned out to be too little too late as many protesters demand that the president step down. An opposition unit has taken control of the presidential palace. Opposition protesters now seem to be in full control of the government district in the capital, Kiev. At the time of this report, the whereabouts of Yanukovich have not been disclosed. Opposition leader Vitaly Kitschko told parliament that Yanukovich had left Kiev. Some reports indicate he may have gone to Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine. Kitschko called for elections on May 25. The parliament voted to release prominent opposition figure ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko from jail although no date was set for her release.
The deputy head of the armed forces Lieutenant-General Yuri Dumansky resigned, saying:"The armed forces of Ukraine are being drawn into a civil conflict. This could be the cause of a large number of deaths of civilians and servicemen, I have decided to tender my resignation to avoid an escalation and bloodshed. The heads of four Ukrainian security bodies, including anti-riot units, attended parliament on Saturday and declared they would not take part in any further conflict with the protesters. The interior ministry had already pledged allegiance to anti-government protesters after a new minister from the opposition was appointed.
The parliament elected Oleksandr Turchynov, an ally of Tymoshenko, as new speaker. Leaders of mainly Russian-speaking regions in East Ukraine have said they are taking control of their areas until "constitutional order" is restored in the central government. Interfax news agency reports the Yanukovych has described recent events as a coup.
Already there are reports of reprisals against Yanukovich supporters. The house of Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian oligarch and politician, is said to have been set on fire.
UPDATE: Tymoshenko has been released from jail and the parliament has voted to impeach Yanukovych.
A man takes pictures as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyh...
A man takes pictures as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014
© Reuters / Konstantin Chernichkin
Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukrain...
Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi outside Kiev February 22, 2014
© Reuters / Konstantin Chernichkin
Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukrain...
Anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi outside Kiev February 22, 2014
© Reuters / Konstantin Chernichkin
People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine s President Viktor Yanukovich as ...
People look through windows of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014
© Reuters / Konstantin Chernichkin
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