After going missing during the night, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has turned up some distance from the opposition-controlled capital.
Yanukovych is now in Kharkiv, described by CNN as a “pro-Russian stronghold”. He went on television to condemn the anti-government forces that had taken over Kiev. The president described the capital as the site of “vandalism” and “crime”. He claims he had no choice but to leave, as Kiev was the scene of a “coup”.
"What I am going to do next,” vowed Yanukovych, “is to protect my country from the split, to stop the bloodshed. I don't know how to do it yet. I am in Kharkiv and I don't know what I am going to do next."
Yanukovych would not comment on questions regarding an attempt to flee the country, as was reported by members of the Ukrainian government earlier in the day.
According to statements by Sergei Astakov, the head of Ukraine's Border Guard Service, the fleeing Ukrainian president and his entourage had indeed made an unsuccessful attempt to get out of Ukraine.
This morning I had a cab driver from the Ukraine. He asked for prayers for family & friends. http://t.co/pqkNcZQGWk
— Rev. Chuck Currie (@RevChuckCurrie) February 23, 2014
Astakov claims the group tried to board a charter flight in the eastern city of Donetsk. Unfortunately for Yanukovych, they lacked the proper paperwork. Security forces who went to check documentation encountered the armed group, who attempted to bribe their way out of the situation.
Astakov told CNN that after the the inspector refused to take their money, Yanukovych and his entourage exited the plane.
In a bizarre turn of events, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, the dismissed interior minister, was turned away from the same airport while attempting to leave the country after also unsuccessfully attempting to bribe border officials.
Yanukovych remains in Ukraine, but despite his position as president, it is unclear how long he will have the title. The Ukrainian Parliament voted to oust Yanukovych and hold new elections on May 25th.
Image via Youtube