Ukraine crisis: Turchynov warns of 'separatism' risk

Shrine to those killed in last week's violence, Kiev, 25 Feb 14 Kiev's Independence Square has become a shrine to those killed in last week's violence

Ukraine's interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych.

His comments came amid continuing opposition in Ukraine's Russian-speaking regions to the new administration in Kiev.

The formation of a unity government has been delayed until Thursday.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Ukraine was not caught in a battle between East and West.

Speaking in Washington after talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, he said: "This is not a zero-sum game, it is not West versus East, it should not be, it is not Russia or the United States or other choices.

"This is about the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians making a choice about their future. We want to work with Russia, with other countries, with everybody available to make sure this is peaceful from this day forward."

Earlier there were reports that one of Mr Yanukovych's former aides, Andriy Kliuyev, had been shot and wounded.

Russian flag in Sevastopol, 25 February 2014 Many people, such as here in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, oppose the changes in Kiev

Mr Kliuyev's car is said to have been attacked while he was travelling back to Kiev from the Crimea after tendering his resignation to the former president. A spokesman was quoted on local media as saying his life was not in danger.

Mr Kliuyev, the former head of the presidential administration, is said to have left Kiev with the president when he fled the capital at the weekend.

Addressing parliament, Mr Turchynov said he would meet law enforcement agencies to discuss the risk of separatism in regions with large ethnic Russian populations. Separatism was a "serious threat", he said.

The delay in announcing a unity government was to allow further consultations, Mr Turchynov said, adding that "a coalition of national faith must be elected".

Anyone held responsible for separatist moves should be punished, his press service quoted Mr Turchynov as saying in a later statement, Reuters news agency reports.

Parliament has now voted in favour of trying Mr Yanukovych at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ex-president is accused of being behind the deaths of more than 100 protesters at the hands of the police, many of them shot by snipers.

The ICC is a court of last resort, our correspondent says - it will only try a case if the country concerned is genuinely unwilling or unable to do so.

In its resolution on trying Mr Yanukovych at the ICC, parliament said he had been involved in "serious crimes".

ICC referral

  • Cases sent by UN Security Council or member country
  • ICC prosecutor can launch investigation
  • Non-members can voluntarily allow jurisdiction, but rarely happens
  • ICC court of last resort
  • Handles genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity

MPs also want former Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko and former Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka tried.

Mr Yanukovych has been missing since last week. He was last reportedly seen on Sunday in Balaklava, on the Crimean peninsula. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

'Non-intervention'

Russia has been vehemently opposed to the changes in Ukraine, with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev saying on Monday that those behind the new administration had conducted an "armed mutiny".

At a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Mr Lavrov warned other states against seeking "unilateral advantages" in Ukraine, but said Russia's "policy of non-intervention" would continue.

"It is dangerous and counterproductive to try to force on Ukraine a choice according to the principle of either being with us or against us," he said.

Mr Lavrov added that "it is in our interest for Ukraine to be part of the broad European family" but against Russia's interest to "allow the radicals and nationalists who are clearly trying to take centre stage to prevail."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: "We want Ukraine to be part of the European family in every sense of the word"

One of the most prominent figures in the opposition, former heavyweight boxing champion, Vitali Klitschko, has confirmed that he will be a candidate in elections scheduled for 25 May.

A spokesman for former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, who was released from jail on Saturday, says she has not yet decided whether to run for the presidency.

Anti-Yanukovych protesters guard a government building in Kiev Protesters are guarding many official buildings in Kiev

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, where Mr Yanukovych has enjoyed support, the head of the regional state administration has said he will also be a presidential candidate.

Speaking on Kanal 5 TV, Mykhaylo Dobkin, gave as his reason "the fact that a total attack on the rights of the Russian-speaking population is under way, that laws are being adopted that threaten all those who do not accept fascism and Nazism".

The BBC gets a snapshot of strained family relations after the protests

Mr Kerry and Mr Hague met in Washington to discuss emergency financial assistance to Kiev.

The US has already said it is ready to give financial support to Ukraine to complement any future loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Further promised loans from Russia are looking increasingly unlikely.

The Ukrainian currency the hryvnia has fallen heavily against the US dollar.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has held further talks in Kiev to discuss financial and political support for Ukraine's new leaders.

She urged the interim authorities to include Yanukovych supporters in any new government, adding: "Everyone I've spoken to here recognises the importance of this country sticking together. But we also know that there are big financial and economic challenges in the days, weeks and months ahead."

Map

Yanukovych's flight from Kiev

  • 21 Feb: leaves Kiev for Kharkiv on helicopter; stays overnight in state residence
  • 22 Feb: flies by helicopter to Donetsk airport; tries to leave on private jet but stopped by border guards; leaves by car for Crimea
  • 23 Feb: arrives in Balaklava, Crimea, and stays briefly in a private spa before making aborted attempt to reach Belbek airport
  • Dismisses most of his security detail; leaves Balaklava in a three-car convoy with some guards and presidential administration head Andriy Kliuyev
  • Source: Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov

Senior US officials, including Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, will join EU officials in Kiev to participate in two days of meetings with political, business and civil society leaders.

Thousands of people remain in Kiev's Independence Square, the Maidan.

Unrest in Ukraine began in November when Mr Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia.

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