WASHINGTON — The Ukrainian parliament shook things up when they voted to oust and remove Viktor Yanukovich as president of the country, after which Yanukovich apparently tried to flee the country.
Reuters reported that Yanukovich’s rival, former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, was freed from prison and rallied with the protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square.
Yanukovich said he would resign, then backtracked from his resignation announcement. But, when parliament voted to remove him, he had no choice but to try to flee the country. In a television interview, Yanukovich said, “The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d’etat.” He also compared the protests to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s along with calling the parliamentary actions “illegal.”
He left behind piles of paperwork and documents, some of which showed that him and his supporters spent exorbitant amounts of money on lighting fixtures and other purchases.
But, Yanukovich could not leave the country as border guards refused to let him flee the city of Donetsk due to insufficient paperwork. Interfax reported that a charter plane tried to leave, and when it was denied several armed men tried to bribe the inspectors. Yanukovich was rumored to be on the plane and left to an undisclosed location via an armored car.
With Yanukovich ousted, Ukraine no longer has a strong, pro-Russia leader. The anti-Russia sentiment of the protesters may indicate a change in Ukrainian policy, after Yanukovich tried to shift Ukraine back into Russia’s good graces.