Yanukovych to Appear in Russia Tomorrow as Swiss Freeze AssetsJohn Fraher
Deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will hold a press conference in neighboring Russia tomorrow, one day after an interim government took charge in Kiev and the Swiss government told banks to freeze his assets.
Yanukovych will brief reporters in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia at 5 p.m. Moscow time, state-run RIA Novosti reported, citing a person close to Yanukovych. The location of the briefing will be announced separately, according to RIA.
Yanukovych disappeared following his ouster as president last weekend after a three-month protest in Kiev’s Independence Square ended in a bloody crackdown and 82 deaths. Yanukovych said on Feb. 22 that he had been deposed in a coup, then tried to flee the country via Donetsk, a move that was foiled by border officials. Russian state-run news service Interfax today cited him as saying he had been granted safe haven in Russia.
Russia has condemned the uprising, saying protesters put the country on a course of “dictatorial, terrorist methods.”
Images of Yanukovych’s luxurious lifestyle were beamed around the world on Feb. 22 when his opponents swarmed into his abandoned mansion on the outskirts of Kiev. Protesters walked freely through the grounds, milling around the man-made lakes, a life-sized galleon, private zoo and a garage full of antique cars and limousines that surround a towering mansion.
The average nominal Ukrainian wage is 3,619 hryvnia ($404) a month, according to the statistics office.
Speaking to parliament after being elected prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk told lawmakers that the Yanukovych regime had moved $70 billion into off-shore accounts and the state coffers were “empty and robbed.” A $3 billion loan from China is now unaccounted for, he said.
In Switzerland, the government said it will publish a decree freezing Yanukovych’s funds tomorrow. Banks “have a due diligence requirement” regarding Ukrainian money held in the country, it said. The Swiss government gave no indication whether he has any money deposited in the country.
Also today, the European Parliament in Strasbourg called for an inquiry into the “massive embezzlement” of Ukrainian assets held in the European Union.
Ukrainian lawmakers want Yanukovych tried for crimes against humanity and on Feb. 25 asked the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate him and other state officials.