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Fugitive Yanukovych clan promises to return to Ukraine to “change its political course”

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov
In a press conference in Moscow on 26 April 2018, fugitive Ukrainian politicians hiding in Russia – Mykola Azarov, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, Andriy Klyuyev, and Stanislav Shulyak – announced that they would return to Ukraine and “resurrect” the country.

On 22 February 2014, after three months of protests during the Euromaidan revolution and over a hundred dead, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kyiv, was swiftly impeached by the Ukrainian parliament and ended up in Russia. The officials and politicians affiliated to him who became known as Yanukovych’s “family” followed suit. Over the next years, Yanukovych gave press conferences in Russia’s Rostov, where he insisted that he was still the legitimate president of Ukraine and Euromaidan was a coup d’etat. Sanctioned by western governments, the officials of his circle made statements and appearances denouncing the Euromaidan revolution and the pro-western government which was elected after it. This time, they announced they would return to Ukraine and change the political course of the country.

The press conference lasted a little over an hour; it was attended by about 25 journalists, including one journalist from Ukraine. When questioned by this journalist, Azarov skirted around the issues and sermonized about Kyiv’s current failures.

At the beginning of the press conference, the fugitive politicians commented on the interrogation for high treason of ex-president Viktor Yanukovych by Kyiv’s Obolonsky District Court and then voiced the usual Kremlin messages, which had previously been expressed by the fugitive Ukrainian ex-president.

These included statements that the events in Ukraine had led to a “coup d’état,” that Euromaidan protesters had been fully armed, that Yanukovych did not flee the country, and that Yanukovych had drawn up a peace agreement with the opposition which supposedly could have stopped the escalation. They also talked about how the Maidan had divided the country and how the government had surrendered Crimea.

Former Interior Minister Zakharchenko added that he was in possession of certain pieces of evidence that he had brought with him when he fled from Ukraine.

“I started my own my investigation as soon as the protests and riots began, and managed not only to escape with these folders, but also to get further valuable information from certain associates.”

Zakharchenko claims that “his folders” contain evidence indicating that there was no need to for the government to start its “anti-terrorist operation” against Russian-separatist militants in the Donbas. The Ukrainian government operation was launched in April 2014, when following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a Russian-backed separatist movement started wielding control of Ukraine’s easternmost parts.

Zakharchenko did not present these documents but said that he would show them in a court that would “deal objectively and comprehensively” with the case of high treason.

Mykola Azarov

Mykola Azarov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine
Mykola Azarov is a Ukrainian politician who was the Prime Minister of Ukraine from 11 March 2010 to 27 January  2014, as well as leader of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. He resigned in January 2014 and has been residing in Russia as of 23 February 2014. The EU recently prolonged sanctions against Azarov. On 12 January 2015, Interpol issued Red Notices for Yanukovych and Azarov, charging them with embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. Since 3 July 2014, Azarov is on the international wanted list for abuse of power. In 2015, Azarov created a “Committee for the salvation of Ukraine,” the proclaimed goal of which was to serve as a “Ukrainian government in exile.”

“We will definitely return to our country. You can write that down and I’ll sign it. We represent a Ukraine that the current regime refuses to see and acknowledge. Make no mistake, we will return and resurrect Ukraine and change the political course of the country. I’m firmly convinced that this will happen,” said Azarov.

Vitaliy Zakharchenko

Vitaliy Zakharchenko, former Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine
Vitaliy Zakharchenko is a Ukrainian politician who is a senior consultant at Russia’s Rostec state corporation. He previously served as Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs from 7 November 2011 until he was suspended from duties by the Verkhovna Rada on 21 February 2014. Ukrainian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Zakharchenko and he is currently wanted on murder charges linked to the Maidan killings. The EU and the US recently prolonged sanctions against Zakharchenko.

Ex-Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Vitaliy Zakharchenko also promised that he would return to Ukraine.

“I’m very closely connected with Ukraine. I’ve given many of my best years to this country, and, of course, my future, both private and political, is strongly tied to Ukraine,” said Zakharchenko.

Stanislav Shulyak

Stanislav Shulyak, former Commander of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine
Stanislav Shulyak is the former Commander of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Accused of organizing the mass killings on Instytutska Street in February 2014, Shulyak has been on the SBU most wanted list since 11 March 2014.

The former Commander of Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Stanislav Shulyak also spoke of his imminent return to Ukraine.

“I will go back… I want to return to a Ukraine, where the red flag of victory flutters in the wind and the St. George ribbon will be a sign of pride and honour of our country, and where the Waffen-SS Galicia Division* will be disowned and disgraced. This is the country I want to return to and I will do everything possible to make this happen,” said Shulyak, referring to the red flag of the Soviet Union and the black-orange striped ribbon which Ukraine banned as a symbol of Russian aggression.

(*Ukrainian military formation in the German armed forces during WW2. The division was organized as part of a programme to create foreign formations of the Waffen SS (eg, Estonian, Latvian) to fight on the Soviet front. The organizer of the division was the German governor of Galicia (Halychyna), Otto von Wachter, and its formation was announced on 28 April 1943. Although at the Nuremberg Trials, the Waffen-SS as a whole was declared to be a criminal organization, the Galizien Division has not specifically been found guilty of any war crimes by any war tribunal or commission – Ed.)

Andriy Klyuyev

Andriy Klyyev, former head of Yanukovych’s Presidential Administration
Andriy Klyuyev is a Ukrainian businessman and former politician, previously ranked as one of the most influential and richest persons in Ukraine. He is the former head of Yanukovych’s Presidential Administration. He resigned from his post on 23 February 2014 and has been living in Moscow. He is wanted in Ukraine for the mass murder of Euromaidan protestors since 7 March 2014. His assets were frozen by the EU on 6 March 2014. The EU recently prolonged sanctions against Andriy Klyuyev but lifted sanctions against his brother Serhiy, a businessman and parliament member who formerly represented Yanukovych’s Party of Regions and was the nominal owner of Yanukovych’s luxurious estate Mezhyhirya.


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