Ukraine’s Yanukovych calls for immediate dialogue

Moscow, April 22: Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych Monday called for immediate dialogue between Kiev and eastern regions, urging the withdrawal of armed forces from those territories.

“Blood cannot be washed away. Stop!” Xinhua quoted Yanukovych as saying in a statement released in Russia’s southwest city of Rostov-on-Don, where he has taken refuge, adding that the Kiev authorities “are one step away from bloodshed”.

He requested the “immediate removal of all Ukrainian Armed Forces from the east of Ukraine, sent there as a detachment of the so-called ‘national guard’, dressed in military uniforms and armed with automatic weapons and grenades”.

In addition, Yanukovych, who was ousted by Ukraine’s parliament Feb 22 and fled to Russia soon afterwards, urged that crisis-torn country to hold referendum in the regions on such issues as federalization, the president’s and parliament’s powers.

He expressed belief that the Ukrainian presidential and parliamentary elections were possible only after those steps were concluded.

Yanukovych also urged the servicemen not to “cross the line, don’t execute criminal orders,” as he still thinks the February event that forced his disposal is a “coup”.

Tensions in eastern Ukraine have been escalating since last weekend following an armed confrontation between Ukrainian security forces and pro-Moscow activists, who demanded a referendum on autonomy and closer ties with Russia.

Last week, the US, Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union signed a statement in Geneva, asking all sides to refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions as part of initial steps to restore order in that country.

IANS