Ex-Ukraine leader urges Trump to end war in east

'I request you take action in defence of... human rights in Ukraine, restoration of democracy and rule of law'

Afp February 22, 2017
"I have not been overthrown by anyone, I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to an immediate threat to my life and the life of those close to me,"says deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych has urged US President Donald Trump to act to stop the war in eastern Ukraine that he blamed on "irresponsible actions" by Kiev and the West.

In the letter, which was made public on Wednesday, Yanukovych urges the US leader to "take urgent and exhaustive measures to stop the war."

"I wrote to President Trump and told him the war needs to end," he told reporters in Moscow ahead of the letter's release.

The pro-Moscow president, who now lives in Russia, blames the conflict on "short-sighted and irresponsible actions by the Ukrainian and Western politicians."

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The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine which was sparked by pro-Russian separatists in March 2014 has now killed more than 10,0000 people.

"I request you take action in defence of... human rights in Ukraine, restoration of democracy and rule of law," he wrote.

Yanukovych was toppled by a pro-European uprising in February 2014 and fled the country with help from Moscow after parliament declared he had failed to fulfil his duties as president.

Protesters had begun gathering on Kiev's central square, known as Maidan, in November 2013 after Yanukovych rejected an association agreement with the European Union and opted to align himself more closely with Moscow.

The Maidan protests lasted three months and culminated in a bloody crackdown by riot police that claimed the lives of more than 100 largely unarmed people and about 20 police.

In his letter to Trump, Yanukovych repeated his claims that "unidentified snipers" attacked both police and protesters.

"I have additional evidence and data that can help to identify the real masterminds of the mass killings on Maidan," he said.

After pro-European leaders took over in Ukraine, Russia annexed Crimea and a separatist conflict broke out in the mainly Russian-speaking east.

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Yanukovych told Trump that officials from then-president Barack Obama's administration had "actively interfered in the situation, taking the side of the protesters."

He said he had sent similar letters to Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Council of Europe chief Thorbjorn Jagland.

Yanukovych said he now lives in the Rostov region of southern Russia, where he gave news conferences soon after leaving Ukraine. His Moscow press event took place under heavy security.

"I don't want to take revenge on anyone," Yanukovych said. "I dream of Ukraine being at peace and of normal life starting there."


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