MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) – Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych issued a defiant statement Thursday condemning the country’s interim government and maintaining that he is still head of state.
The fugitive president, whose whereabouts have been the subject of feverish speculation, said he had been forced to ask Russia to ensure his personal security from “extremists.”
“Everything that is happening now in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine is illegitimate," Yanukovych said in a statement distributed to Russian news agencies. "All decisions will quickly show their ineffectiveness and will not be fulfilled.”
Anonymous government sources said Thursday that Russia had accepted Yanukovych's request for security and that the fugitive leader was currently on Russian territory.
Yanukovych is wanted in Ukraine on mass murder charges related to the deaths of protesters and was last seen in the Crimean seaside town of Balaklava on Sunday evening, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.
The toppling of Yanukovych’s government at the weekend has provoked a wave of pro-Russian rallies in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, particularly in the Crimea, where ethnic Russians are in a majority.
“It’s becoming obvious now that people in southeast Ukraine and in the Crimea will not accept anarchic and de facto lawlessness in the country when the heads of ministries are elected by crowds in the street,” Yanukovych said.