Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych has appeared in public for the first time since he fled Kyiv – in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
At a news conference, Yanukovych said that he remained the “legitimate” president of Ukraine and declared that the country’s new government was “illegal”.
“The time has come for me to say that I will continue the fight for the future of Ukraine. Against those who, by terror, try to control it,” he told reporters.
Yanukovych left Kyiv a week ago after dozens of protesters were shot dead by riot police.
“I never gave any orders to shoot,” he said and he blamed Ukraine’s descent into bloodshed on “radicals” and “right-wing thugs”.
He apologised, however, to the Ukrainian people and said that he was “ashamed” that he had not been able to maintain stability in his country.
Yanukovych said he had only left Ukraine due to concerns about his safety: “Nobody has overthrown me. I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to a direct threat to my life and threats to those closest to me.”
Ukraine’s new government has issued an international arrest warrant for Yanukovych and wants him to face charges of mass murder.