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Ukraine issues arrest warrant for missing leader

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A portrait of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych is used for a game of darts at Independence Square in Kiev. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic) A portrait of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych is used for a game of darts at Independence Square in Kiev. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic)

With Viktor Yanukovych on the run, Ukraine's interimgovernment drew up a warrant Monday for the fugitive president's arrest in thekilling of anti-government protesters last week.

Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, the interimpresident, moved quickly to open a dialogue with the West, saying at a meetingwith European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that the coursetoward closer integration with Europe and financial assistance from the EU were"key factors of stable and democratic development of Ukraine."

In a statement released by his office, Turchinov saidUkraine and the EU should immediately revisit the closer ties that Yanukovychabandoned in November in favor of a $15 billion bailout loan from Russia thatset off a wave of protests. Within weeks, the protests expanded to includeoutrage over corruption and human rights abuses, leading to calls forYanukovych's resignation.

Today, many Ukrainians are feeling a sense of relief andoptimism, but they are also disgusted after video was released of Yanukovych'slavish lifestyle as many civilians struggled, calling it a salt in theirwounds.

"Too much," said Ukrainian-American Vasyl Shymonyak after hewatched the video, "all money stolen from people – taxes."

Shymonyak has happy memories of his home country from whenhe visited this past summer. And at the time, he said he could have predictedthe bloodshed for democracy or the level of luxury in which their president wasliving.

He said while the president was living a lavish lifestyle,his family – like many Ukrainians – struggled.

"My dad is retired. His pension is $200 a month," Shymonyaksaid.

But that opulence and corruption isn't a new revelation forsome who said they've been living an oppressive nightmare for years.

"Every authority everywhere, every region of Ukraine wasbribery, bribery, bribery," explained Ukrainian Olexander Fedoreyko.

Oksana Syroyid added, "Any decision that was made, they werevery oppressive and in a lot cases humiliating."

But with their ousted president on the run, they say they feeloptimistic that democracy is on the horizon, and so is justice.

"I hope they catch him, hope there will be a court, and Ihope they give him couple years in prison," Shymonyak said.

Activist Valeri Kazachenko said Yanukovych must be arrestedand brought to trial.

"He must answer for all the crimes he has committedagainst Ukraine and its people," he said, as thousands continued to flockto Independence Square to light candles, lay flowers where dozens were killedand watch a video screen showing photos of the dead. "Yanukovych must be triedby the court of the people right here in the square."

Turchinov, the parliament speaker, is now nominally incharge of this strategic country of 46 million whose ailing economy faces therisk of default and whose loyalties are sharply torn between Europe and longtimeruler Russia. He said he hopes to form a new coalition government by Tuesday.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev strongly condemnedthe new authorities, saying they came to power as a result of an "armedmutiny" and their legitimacy is causing "big doubts."

Medvedev wouldn't say what action Russia might take toprotect its interests.

"If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in blackmasks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us towork with that government," Medvedev said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the West for turninga blind eye to what Moscow described as the opposition reneging on an agreementsigned Friday to form a unity government and aiming to "suppress dissentin various regions of Ukraine with dictatorial and, sometimes, even terroristmethods."

Although Russia has questioned the new government'slegitimacy, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly referred to Turchinovas the "interim president."

United States Nation Security Advisor Susan Rice said theU.S. is on the side of the Ukrainian people and supports the democraticelections.


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Melanie Sanders

Melanie anchors the 6 PM news. Her "What's Next" series features an engaging approach to storytelling and highlights the leaders in innovation who are shaping our future. Check it out HERE! More>>

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