Viktor Yanukovych is personally financing separatist activity in southeastern Ukraine, said First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema at a press conference, Friday, April 4, as reported by Ukrainian News.
“According to our information, Viktor Yanukovych and his supporters had removed very large sums of money from Ukrainian territory. We don’t know the exact sums, but it appears they’re in the billions of dollars. These sums, according to our information and the information from our intelligence services, are being used right now to incite separatist sentiment among the population of Ukraine,” he said.
Yarema reported that some 320 separatist demonstrations have taken place since the end of February, attended by 242,000 people. To date,15 separatist leaders have been arrested, a development that Yarema believes is responsible for the recent decrease in separatist activity.
He also warned that, according to the Security Service of Ukraine, separatists are planning to hold large-scale events in the southeastern areas on May 1 and May 9 to destabilize the situation.
When asked why Party of Regions MPs Oleh Tsarov and Vadym Kolesnichenko, known for their separatist declarations, have not yet been arrested, Yarema answered that criminal proceedings against the two have been opened but that the information has not yet been made public.
Yarema also pointed out that the two men have parliamentary immunity and that bringing them to trial would be almost impossible.
As previously reported by Ukrainian News, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine has stated that separatists, with Russian support, plan to elect a “president” of the southeastern regions of Ukraine by the end of April as an alternative government in Ukraine.
Translated by Anna Mostovych