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Saturday, February 22, 2014
Ukrainian MPs vote to oust President Yanukovych
Opposition deputies reacted with joy after the vote
Ukrainian MPs have voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych and hold early presidential elections on 25 May.
The vote came after police stopped guarding presidential
buildings, allowing protesters in, and parliament made new high-level
Mr Yanukovych said it was a "coup" and vowed not to stand down.
And on a day of fast-moving events, prominent opposition
leader Yulia Tymoshenko was released from detention, hours after MPs
authorised the move.
She left the hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv where
she had been held under prison guard, and flew to Kiev, where she
addressed the demonstrators in Independence Square.
Ms Tymoshenko was freed following a vote by parliament on Friday demanding her release.
She was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2011 after a controversial verdict on her actions as prime minister.
Her supporters have always maintained this was simply Mr
Yanukovych taking out his most prominent opponent, and her release has
always been a key demand of the protest movement
On Thursday, the bloodiest day of recent unrest, at least 21 protesters and one policeman died.
Ms Tymoshenko told journalists at Kiev airport that those behind violence "must be punished", the Interfax agency reports. 'Coup' denounced
The opposition is now in effective control of the capital
Kiev, with Mr Yanukovych in Kharkiv, near the Russian border, after
travelling there late on Friday night.
The Interfax news agency reported parliament speaker
Oleksandr Turchynov as saying Mr Yanukovych had been stopped by border
police in an attempt to flee to Russia and was now somewhere in the
Earlier on Saturday, protesters walked unchallenged into the president's office and residential compounds