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Yanukovich denounces "coup", says staying in Ukraine

Source: Reuters - Sat, 22 Feb 2014 15:11 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Combines stories, adds quotes)

KIEV, Feb 22 (Reuters) - President Viktor Yanukovich denounced on Saturday what he described as a "coup d'etat" by gangsters who were terrorising Ukraine and said he would not flee the country or let it be torn apart.

In an interview with Ukrainian television station UBR, the president looked exhausted but appeared to have suffered no injuries after an incident in which he said his car had come under fire.

"The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d'etat," said Yanukovich, who stood in a dark suit and blue tie.

"We are witnessing the return of the Nazis, the time when in 19030s the Nazis came to power in Germany and Austria. It is the same now ... I will do all I can to protect the country from splitting and to prevent bloodshed."

UBR did not say where the interview was conducted although Yanukovich is thought to be in the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

A day after signing an agreement with the opposition on resolving weeks of crisis, he has lost control of his presidential headquarters and the Interior Ministry which controls the police has turned against him.

"I will now travel in the southeast of the country. I will continue to meet people," he said. "I will stay on the territory of Ukraine. I will call on all international observers and mediators to stop the gangsters."

Refusing to recognise the legitimacy of laws and resolutions approved by parliament on Saturday, after the speaker loyal to him quit citing ill health, Yanukovich said: "I will sign nothing with gangsters who are terrorising the whole country."

He said his car had been shot at but did now say where or when.

"I am not afraid. I feel sorrow for my country," he told UBR.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Matt Robionson,; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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