Monday, February 24, 2014

Ukraine Charges Yanukovych with Mass Murder; May Have Told Police to Shoot Kiev Protesters

Ukraine's new leaders have issued an arrest warrant for ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who was impeached on February 22 and is on the run. The charges are linked to recent deadly violence in Kiev, the Christian Science Monitor website reports today (February 24, 2014).

The Kiev Post wrote this morning that it is "presumed that the investigation centers on whether Yanukovych hired snipers or ordered riot police to shoot Independence Square demonstrators in January and February." More than 100 people have been killed in Ukraine's political turmoil, including at least 75 in the past week.

The manhunt is the latest blow to Yanukovych, who just a week ago sought to use force to crush the protests on Kiev's Independence Square. Protesters have occupied Independence Square since late November, when Yanukovych decided against signing an association agreement with the European Union (EU), which would have set Ukraine on a course that could ultimately result in EU membership.

Yanukovych instead sought support from the Kremlin, which retains strong influence over the eastern half of Ukraine and views the onetime Soviet republic as part of its sphere of influence. Russia eventually offered Yanukovych's government a $15 billion loan to keep Ukraine from toppling into economic crisis. His decision to accept support from Russia -- rather than signing an agreement with the EU -- sparked the angry protests that led to Yanukovych's downfall.

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