Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych has been indicted for state treason for facilitating Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2014, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said in court in Kyiv on November 28. The charges followed the deposed leader’s questioning by video conference in a case against ex-special police force members over killings at the Euromaidan protests in the capital early that year.
“[Yanukovych] committed state treason... with the aim of assisting the Russian Federation to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, hoping to receiving the assistance and protection from representatives of the Russian Federation for living in that country and avoiding criminal responsibility [for his actions] in Ukraine,” Interfax quoted Lutsenko as saying.
According to the chief prosecutor, an official notice was sent to all known addresses of Yanukovych and his lawyer with accusations of “opening the door to the [Russian] aggressor”.
Yanukovych fled Ukraine to Russia in February 2014 after around 100 protesters were shot dead in central Kyiv. Even two and a half years since he was ousted for running a kleptocratic administration, Ukraine’s prosecutors have yet to bring a single charge against any high-level official of the former regime.
In August, the Prosecutor General’s Office said it wants to question former prime minister Mykola Azarov, who was a close associate of Yanukovych, regarding the embezzlement of funds belonging to Ukraine’s biggest state-controlled oil producer and the company’s subsidiary Ukrgazvydobuvannia. A total of UAH2bn ($80mn) is believed to have been diverted by a criminal organisation allegedly headed by Yanukovych.
Meanwhile, Yanukovych said during the court hearings that he left Ukraine in 2014 so as to prevent a civil war in the country. “I made the decision [to leave Ukraine] and only then I addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin and told him that I have made the decision to leave the territory of Ukraine,” he said.
“A war like that in Donbas would have started throughout Ukraine if I had stayed there,” he added, referring to the separatist conflict that has claimed almost 10,000 lives in East Ukraine since 2014.
Yanukovych also rejected accusations that he had given an order to use force against anti-government protesters in Kyiv in 2013-2014.
“I was against the use of weapons and against bloodshed from the very beginning until the very end. It was my committed position,” the ex-president underlined. “I could not have issued such orders.”
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