Ukrainians offered mixed reactions on Friday to the first public appearance by President Viktor Yanukovych after he fled Kiev last week. Yanukovych resurfaced in Russia to deliver a defiant condemnation of a “bandit coup” and pledged to fight for his country’s future, without asking for military assistance.His remarks were broadcast around the country on giant screens.
“We don’t even like to listen to him, because of all this pain in our hearts and everything that he has done to Ukraine,” said Lviv resident Galina Shurko.
While Kiev and western Ukraine have risen up against Yanukovych, he remains popular in the Russian-speaking eastern and southern regions, where economic and cultural ties with Russia are strong. “I still consider him our President. Because the new government came in power in an unlawful way, with military aggression,” said Lena Kleshevnykova, a resident of the northeastern city of Kharkiv. Many in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and Donetsk in the east agreed with her.
“Bandits, fascists, nationalists have taken the government and we have to support our President and cast our votes so that Viktor Yanukovych stays our president. So we are also asking the mayor to put up a tent, collect signatures and organise rallies,” Donetsk resident Yelena Ghorovkina said.
Ukraine on Friday accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation”, saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula. Russia kept silent on those accusations but confirmed that armoured vehicles from its Black Sea Fleet were moving around Crimea for “security” reasons as the crisis deepened between two of Europe’s largest countries.The majority of Crimea’s population are ethnic Russians, and Yanukovych still enjoys widespread support there.
Any Russian military incursion in Crimea would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine’s conflict, which saw the pro-Russian Yanukovych flee after three months of anti-government protests.
CCTV’s Roee Ruttenberg spoke to Ukrainians who heard the speech, and has this report:
Complete coverage of Ukraine crisis from CCTV:
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