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Poroshenko To Testify At Yanukovych's Treason Trial

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (file photo)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has confirmed he will testify at the treason trial in absentia of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Evil must be punished. That is why, for the first time in Ukrainian history, I decided to take part in the trial," Poroshenko said in Kyiv on February 18.

"It is unprecedented when the president takes part personally, but this [trial] concerns everybody," he added.

The comments come after Kyiv’s Obolon district court summoned Poroshenko and other top Ukrainian officials in December to testify as witnesses for prosecution at the trial, which began in May 2017.

Yanukovych abandoned office in late February 2014 and fled to Russia in the face of protests triggered by his decision to scrap plans for a landmark deal with the European Union and improve trade ties with Moscow instead.

Ukrainian prosecutors say 104 people were killed and 2,500 injured when his government attempted to clamp down on the pro-European street protests known as the Euromaidan.

Prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for Yanukovych, who is accused of treason, violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and abetting Russian aggression.

After he fled, Russia seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and fomented opposition to the central government in eastern Ukraine, where the ensuing war between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 10,300 people.

Western governments responded to Russia's moves with several waves of sanctions targeting Moscow.

On February 20, Ukrainians will commemorate the fourth anniversary of the bloodiest day of Euromaidan.

The annual commemorations honor protesters, known as the Heavenly Hundred, who were killed in clashes with security forces in Kyiv.