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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Protesters take Kiev as president flees -- Fox News

Protesters took control of Ukraine’s capital on Saturday, seizing the president’s office as parliament sought to oust him and form a new government. An aide to President Viktor Yanukovych said he had left Kiev for his support base in the country’s Russian-speaking east, but that he has no intention of abandoning power.

Yanukovych left Kiev for Kharkiv, where governors, provincial officials and legislators gathered. Top Russian lawmakers joined the meeting, too, while thousands of angry protesters gathered outside chanting, “Ukraine is not Russia!”

The president reaffirmed that he won't resign Saturday, calling the political crisis a coup while saying it resembles the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.

The leaders gathered in Kharkiv approved a statement calling on regional authorities to take full responsibility for the constitutional order on their territory.

Some called for forming volunteer units to protect against force by protesters from western regions. The assembly urged army units to maintain neutrality and protect ammunition depots.

The trip comes a day after Yanukovych and opposition leaders signed a European-brokered agreement aimed at resolving the months-old political crisis that has killed scores and injured hundreds. The agreement calls for presidential elections to be moved up from March 2015 to no later than December, and constitutional reforms that reduce the president’s powers.

Many protesters said the elections are still far too late, and that the deal does not address the issue that triggered the protests in November -- Yanukovych's abandonment of closer ties with the European Union in faovr of a bailout deal with longtime ruler Russia.

Russia, the United States and the European Union are deeply worried about the future of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million whose loyalties and economy are divided between Europ and longtime ruler Moscow.
In a special parliament session, lawmakers warned that the country risks being split in two. The country's western regions want to be closer to the EU and have rejected Yanukovych's authority in many cities, while eastern Ukraine -- which accounts for the bulk of the nation's economic output -- favors closer ties with Russia.

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