Saturday, August 23, 2014


Ukraine

Yanukovych Expected To Speak; New Gov't In Financial Crisis

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk

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By RFE/RL
Viktor Yanukovych is expected to give his first news conference since he was chased out of Kyiv and ousted as Ukraine's president.
 
Russian news agencies report that Yanukovych will speak on February 28 at 1400 Prague time in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
 
In a statement, Yanukovych said he has asked Russia to protect his personal safety from "extremists."
 
Yanukovych also said the recent decisions made by Ukraine's parliament are illegal.
 
In the past week, parliament has overthrown Yanukovych's authority and appointed a new interim president. Ukraine's new authorities have also issued an arrest warrant for him.
 
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Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the leaders of the anti-Yanukovych movement, has meanwhile been confirmed as prime minister of a new government led by the former opposition. 
 
Yatsenyuk said it was unknown how loans worth $37 billion had been used during Yanukovych's term, and that $70 billion was transferred from Ukraine's financial system to offshore accounts.
 
It was not immediately clear how much of the capital flight was due to illegal activity.
 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced it is sending a team to Ukraine for urgent talks on a possible bailout worth billions of dollars. The team is expected to visit Kyiv next week.
 
Ukraine’s new authorities have estimated that more than $15 billion in IMF loans may be needed. In return, the IMF is expected to require reforms that could have a painful impact on the economic conditions of ordinary people.
 
The IMF’s involvement has come after Russia raised doubts about the future of a $15 billion aid package to Kyiv that Moscow agreed with Yanukovych’s government in December.
 
'Robbed And Empty'

Speaking to the Verkhovna Rada national assembly, Yatsenyuk said Ukraine’s treasury “has been robbed and is empty."
 
He warned that unpopular measures will be necessary to stave off economic collapse. But he vowed steps to move the country toward European Union integration.
 
Yanukovych’s refusal to sign accords on cooperation with the EU in November sparked the protest movement that has resulted in the new government.

"The key task for the new Ukrainian government is European integration. It means a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens and it means an agreement with the European Union on political and economic integration, agreement on a fully fledged free trade zone," Yatsenyuk said. 

"The future of Ukraine is in Europe and Ukraine will become a member of the European Union."
 
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Reacting to the Ukrainian developments, the Swiss government said it would ask Swiss banks to freeze any funds linked to Yanukovych.
 
The European Parliament has also called for the freezing of assets belonging to Yanukovych, who is alleged to have enjoyed a luxury lifestyle.
 
In a statement, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the IMF team due to visit Kyiv will make an assessment of Ukraine's economic situation and launch talks on what policy reforms are needed.
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on February 27 Moscow is continuing to call for the implementation of the -- apparently now defunct -- agreement signed last week by Yanukovych and former opposition leaders.
 
The Russian Foreign Ministry noted the February 21 agreement was signed in the presence of the French, German, and Polish foreign ministers, and was supported by the United States.
 
The agreement called for an early presidential election and the formation of a unity government, with Yanukovych remaining as president.
 
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow is ready to cooperate with foreign partners to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, but said the rights of all Ukrainians must be respected.
 
With reporting by Reuters and AP

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