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    Maidan square in Kiev, Ukraine, February 19, 2014

    Ex-President Yanukovych Says Supports Ukraine's Territorial Integrity

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    Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said Friday he was dreaming of the end of the war in Donbas and its restoration.

    ROSTOV-ON-DON (Sputnik) — Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said Friday he supports Ukraine's territorial integrity and wants Donbass to be part of Ukraine.

    "I was against violation of Ukraine's integrity from the start. Separation of Donbass was an emotional impulse of people who reacted negatively to riots, when radicals started spilling blood, there were many such reasons. I am for Donbass as part of Ukraine, for [Ukraine's] territorial integrity," Yanukovych told a news conference.

    He added that the settlement of the Ukrainian conflict requires a wide-scale autonomy.

    "As regards my return — media write much that I want to return to power… but I am dreaming of putting a prompt end to the war in my homeland and of Donbass rising from the ruins," Yanukovych told a news conference.

    "I am thinking of the end to the war rather than of anything else," he said.

    Ukraine’s eastern regions have been severely affected by Kiev’s special military operation, launched in April 2014 against Donbass residents who rejected the legitimacy of the new coup-imposed central government and declared independence. In February 2015, the two sides reached a ceasefire deal after talks brokered by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine — the so-called Normandy Format — in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

    “These authorities came to power in Ukraine amid blood and lies, so they have no future. You will never build your happiness this way, this is not what the people needed,” Yanukovych said about the current government in Kiev.

    Yanukovych said his decision not to declare martial law after the start of late 2013 protests was his biggest mistake.

    "I made many mistakes, the biggest of which was not finding inner strength to deploy troops and declare martial law in Ukraine, which was the only way of stopping radicals, but I couldn't spill blood," he told the reporters.

    Yanukovych, who fled to Russia amid the anti-government Maidan revolt, said he still would not use martial law to quell protest even if he could turn back the time, "because I understood this would lead to a civil war."

    The former leader denied siphoning money from Ukraine and said that the corresponding accusations were “falsified.”

    “I didn’t siphon off anything from Ukraine, except personal belongings. All these investigations showed that all this, including Maidan protest, arose from lies, falsifications and a well-prepared propaganda,” Yanukovich said.

    Yanukovych was toppled in February 2014 following what a coup in Kiev. New Ukrainian authorities accuse him of corruption.

    He called on Western countries, supporting the current Kiev regime, to create a competitive political environment in the conflict-torn country to ensure Ukraine's revival.

    "Those Western backers…must be frank with themselves, open their eyes and create a normal competitive political environment in the country that would lead to elections. Ukraine will begin to revive, will transform, I believe in that," Yanukovych said.

    The ex-president also said he had many supporters in Ukraine and maintained contacts with them.

    He denied speculations that he had financed people's self-defense forces in the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in Donbass.

    "I could not finance [Donbass forces] for the simple reason that I did not have the funds. The money is on my [frozen] accounts in Ukraine, all property has been arrested. I could not finance anybody," Yanukovych told the reporters.

    Ukraine's Authorities Fear Maidan Crimes Could Be Disclosed at Court Hearing

    The Ukrainian authorities fear that some crimes can be disclosed at a court hearing on the case of former members of the Berkut special forces, accused of killing civilians during the 2013-2014 Maidan protests in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych said.

    Earlier in the day, a Kiev court suggested postponing the questioning of Yanukovych in connection with the case until November 28, as it was impossible to bring all members of the Berkut special forces to court.

    "I am outraged over what has happened. We need to understand who benefits from it. I believe that there are fears that the Maidan crimes could be disclosed. These actions [that have led to the delay of the hearing] had been taken against the law," Yanukovych said.

    Earlier this week, Yanukovych's lawyer Vitaliy Serdyuk said that some officials in Kiev, who were not interested in his public questioning could have been preparing to disrupt it.

    In 2013, Kiev's main square, Maidan, witnessed pro-European protests sparked by Yanukovych's decision to postpone signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Later, the square became the focus of confrontations between the protesters and security forces. Before the protests ended in early 2014 in the coup, dozens of people were killed during the Maidan protests. The current Ukrainian authorities blame Yanukovych and the Berkut special forces for the deaths on Maidan.

    Yanukovych said that all parties involved in the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis should review the February 2014 agreement on the settlement of the political crisis in Ukraine.

    "We should return to the document that was supposed to resolve the crisis…as it has never been implemented," Yanukovych told the reporters.

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    Ukrainian crisis, Viktor Yanukovych, Donbass, Ukraine
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