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By Kathy Lally, Updated: Friday, February 28, 9:44 AM
MOSCOW — Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych said Friday he had no intention of asking for Russian military intervention in Ukraine, blamed the chaos there on Western manipulation and said he would not return to his country until his security could be guaranteed.
Speaking in Russian at a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on–Don, Yanukovych insisted he remains the legitimate president of Ukraine and that he did not order police to fire on demonstrators. He said Russia should intervene in the Ukrainian crisis, although he said he could not say how.
“It would not be correct on my part to say what Russia needs to do,” Yanukovych said in his first public appearance since he fled Ukraine, turning up in Moscow this week. “But Russia cannot stand aside, it cannot be indifferent to the destiny of such a big partner as Ukraine,” he said.
“Russia needs to use all the leverage it has to prevent the chaos and terror in Ukraine,” he added. “It’s hard for me to give any kind of tips. I do not accept any attempt at intervention that would violate the integrity of Ukrainian sovereignty.”
“I believe that Russia will act,” he said. “Since I know the character of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, I am surprised he has kept silent. This is a big question.”
Yanukovych said he never ordered police to shoot at demonstrators in Kiev. Nearly 90 people were killed last week when security forces cracked down on anti-government demonstrators, opening fire on them in bloody street clashes.
He complained that an agreement he signed with opposition leaders Feb. 21 had not been enforced, talking as if the events of the last week — notably his ouster by a parliamentary vote and the selection of a new president and cabinet — had never happened.
“No one has deposed me,” he said. “I was forced to leave Ukraine because of the threat to my life and the lives of my relatives.”
He said he left the country by making his way by car from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine to the Crimean Peninsula, an autonomous region with a largely pro-Russian population.
“Here’s how I came to Russia,” he said. “I came here thanks to patriotically minded officers. That’s how I’m going to put it. They did their duty and they helped me stay alive.”
He said he had not met Putin since his arrival in Russia.
“When I ended up in Russia, I had a phone call with him,” Yanukovych said. “We agreed once the president of Russia has an opportunity, we will meet, but I don’t know when this will happen.”
Yanukovych said he was in Rostov-on-Don, not far from the Ukrainian border, because he had a friend who lives near there.
Authorities in Switzerland and Austria, meanwhile, moved Friday to block any assets that Yanukovych and his son Aleksander might have hidden in those countries, news agencies reported. The Swiss launched a corruption investigation against them focused on what prosecutors described as “aggravated money laundering.”
Austria said it was freezing the bank accounts of the Viktor and Aleksander Yanukovych and 16 other people linked to Ukraine’s former government pending a European Union decision on whether to impose sanctions on them.