Ukraine protesters killed under Yanukovych's 'direct leadership'

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Ukraine protesters killed under Yanukovych's 'direct leadership'

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The killing of anti-government protesters in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in February took place “under the direct leadership” of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, security chiefs said on Thursday.

Moscow-backed Yanukovych fled Kyiv on Feb. 21, the day after the worst of the killings by sniper fire, and was ousted by parliament on Feb. 22.

According to Ukraine’s security chief, more than 100 people were gunned down by the Berkut riot police.

The charges were made during a news conference by the Prosecutor General Valentyn Nalyvaychenko.

“Planned as an anti-terrorist operation, it was in fact a mass killing of people which took place under the direct orders of ex-president Yanukovych,” he said.

The accusations were denied by the ousted leader during a Russian internet broadcast on Wednesday. It was only Yanukovych’s third public appearance since he fled Kyiv.

A spokesman for Ukraine’s general prosecutor said 12 members of the disbanded ‘Berkut’ force have now been detained on suspicion of shooting peaceful participants in the protests.