Ukrainian President Charged With Mass Murder, Arrest Warrant Issued
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich is now being hunted by police after the country’s interim interior minister issued an arrest warrant charging him with mass murder of peaceful citizens.
Last week, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove the president from power after protests over his regime turned deadly in Kiev. Yanukovich fled the country after the vote and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Although reports differ, 88 people are believed to have died during the three months of protests while nearly 2,000 were injured. An additional 234 protesters were arrested with 140 of them being imprisoned. Sixteen law enforcement agents are believed to have died in the mayhem as well.
The country has now been taken over by Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov who is expected to bring Ukrainian’s dueling parties together until early elections are held in May.
The protests began in November after the government suspended the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. Alarmed over the amount of corruption and police brutality, protesters were largely against Russia’s strong influence over the Ukrainian government.
Thus far, many of the movement’s goals have been accomplished. The president has been impeached, early elections have been scheduled, the 2004 Ukrainian Constitution is expected to be re-adopted, and now, the president may face trial.
The new interim regime has already freed opposition leaders, like former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, from jail and have granted amnesty to detained protesters.
Whoever takes over the country in May will have to deal with a country already on the ropes and one whose economic status has been significantly hurt by the events over the past three months. The country’s credit rating has been downgraded by western credit agencies.
Because the country is largely split between anti-Russia and pro-Kremlin supporters, many worry about a rift in the coming months. National Security Advisor Susan Rice told media “It is not in the interest of Ukraine or of Russia, or Europe, or the United States to see the country split. It is in nobody’s interest to see violence return and the situation escalate.”
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev noted his displeasure at the events in neighboring Ukraine, saying “This is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny.”