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Ukraine Crisis

Yanukovych Blames 'Irresponsible' West for Backing Protesters

Ukraine's ousted president Viktor Yanukovych on Friday condemned Western powers as "irresponsible" and accused them of "pandering to" the 'Euromaidan' protesters who occupied central Kiev.

In his first public appearance since fleeing Ukraine, he said the deaths in last week's clashes were "consequences of a political crisis."

"This is the result of irresponsible policies of the West," the defiant ex-president told reporters at a news conference in neighboring Russia. "But Ukraine is a strong country and we will get out."

He said opposition groups had reneged on a Feb. 21 deal that had been witnessed by witnessed by the foreign ministers of three European nations.

As a result, he said, Kiev was "taken over by armed people who… robbed and beat people on the streets.”

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He also described as “illegal” the May 25 elections proposed by Ukraine’s interim rulers, calling instead for constitutional reforms followed by a poll in December.

He added that the separatist demonstrations in Crimea were an “absolutely natural reaction” to what he described as “nationalist bandits in Kiev.”

Yanukovych said he chose Rostov-on-Don "because an old friend of mine lives nearby" and he wanted find temporary shelter.

His appearance in Russia came despite Ukraine's General Prosecutor Office calling on Russia to extradite him to face charges of corruption and for his role in the death of protesters in Kiev.