Ukraine: Speaker takes over as interim president

  • AP, Kiev
  • Updated: Feb 24, 2014 01:11 IST

The whereabouts and legitimacy of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych were unclear on Sunday, after he left the capital and his archfoe Yulia Tymoshenko was freed from prison and returned to Kiev to address a massive crowd.

Ukraine’s newly-emboldened legislature voted on Sunday to hand the president’s powers to the Parliament speaker, a Tymoshenko ally — Oleksander Turchinov.

But Yanukovych has said Parliament decisions in recent days are illegal. A plane with Yanukovych onboard was denied permission to take off on Saturday evening from Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is the president’s base of support the State Border Guard Service said.

The Kiev protest camp at the centre of the anti-Yanukovych movement filled with more demonstrators on Sunday morning, a day that saw a stunning reversal of fortune in a political standoff that has left scores dead and worried the US, Europe and Russia. “We need to punish those with blood on their hands,” said Artyom Zhilyansky, a protester.

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