- Title: Protests which stopped court hearing were Kiev-backed - ex-Ukraine president
- Date: 25th November 2016
- Summary: ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA (NOVEMBER 25, 2016) (REUTERS) EXILED FORMER PRESIDENT VIKTOR YANUKOVICH SITTING DOWN AHEAD OF NEWS CONFERENCE CAMERAS (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) EXILED FORMER PRESIDENT, VIKTOR YANUKOVICH, SAYING: "This is the work of the Ukrainian side and it is evident that this was necessary for those who fear the questions that would solve the crimes that took place on Maidan." YANUKOVICH SPEAKING TO MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) EXILED FORMER PRESIDENT, VIKTOR YANUKOVICH, SAYING: "The actions that took place today in Ukraine, for blocking the court hearing, for failing to comply with the court's decision - the people that answer to these are those people, that in our opinion, have direct relation to the events that took place on Maidan." PHOTOGRAPHER TAKING PHOTOGRAPH (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) EXILED FORMER PRESIDENT, VIKTOR YANUKOVICH, SAYING: "This work is very big work, which was conducted by professionals, social activists and politicians and journalists - your colleagues. Here lies substantive evidence of those crimes that took place on Maidan." JOURNALISTS RAISING HANDS TO ASK QUESTIONS YANUKOVICH SPEAKING TO MEDIA
- Embargoed: 10th December 2016 19:28
- Keywords: Yanukovich exiled former president Viktor Yanukovich Maidan court
- Location: ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA
- City: ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA00159XZI9Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Protests prompted a Ukrainian court to postpone its questioning of exiled former president Viktor Yanukovich as a witness at a trial on Friday (November 25) over the killing of demonstrators, a delay that Yanukovich said was a bid to obstruct justice.
At a lengthy briefing in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovich said right-wing radicals had disrupted the event with the tacit approval of the Ukrainian authorities to cover up the truth of what happened at Maidan.
"This is the work of the Ukrainian side and it is evident that this was necessary for those who fear the questions that would solve the crimes that took place on Maidan," Yanukovich told journalists.
The court in Ukraine was due to cross-examine Yanukovich via video link over the fatal shooting by police officers of protesters during the Maidan street revolt of 2013/2014 when he was president, unrest that culminated in him fleeing to Russia.
At a news conference where he quoted philosopher Friedrich Engels and U.S. statesman Henry Kissinger, Yanukovich reasserted his innocence and presented three thick volumes that he said contained evidence of what really happened during the uprising.
"This work is very big work, which was conducted by professionals, social activists and politicians and journalists - your colleagues. Here lies substantive evidence of those crimes that took place on Maidan," he said.
It would have been the first time Yanukovich has been interrogated by a Ukrainian court about the deaths, but his role as a witness in the trial of five riot police officers, rather than standing accused himself, has angered many in Ukraine.
A small crowd of protesters in Kiev - some clad in camouflage and waving nationalist flags - prevented the defendants from being transported to the courthouse from jail.
After some debate in the courtroom over how to proceed in the absence of the accused, the judge postponed the testimony to November 28, despite appeals from Yanukovich to carry on.
Ukrainian General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko said the Kremlin has allowed Yanukovich to be cross-examined merely as a public relations stunt, pointing to Russian insistence the testimony coincide with the third anniversary of the protests.
Yanukovich escaped Kiev in the final days of the uprising, which installed a pro-European leadership and lit the fuse for Moscow's annexation of Crimea and a separatist conflict in the mainly Russian-speaking east.
More than 100 demonstrators were killed in the three months of street protests in Kiev's Maidan square - 48 allegedly gunned down by police snipers who Ukrainian authorities say received direct orders from Moscow-backed Yanukovich.
Yanukovich is himself being investigated on suspicion of mass murder, but the current trial is of five "Berkut" riot police accused of carrying out the shooting. They have pleaded not guilty.
Three years on from the start of the protests, nobody has yet been held accountable for the deaths - an additional pressure on the Ukrainian authorities' public approval ratings, which have been driven down by the patchiness of efforts to root out corruption and improve the economy.
Moscow says the 2013/14 uprising was orchestrated by the West and questions the legitimacy of the post-Yanukovich leadership in Kiev.
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