Feb 27, 2014

By Jane Brown

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Ukraine’s fugitive president appears to have broken his silence.  Viktor Yanukovych said in a statement today he is asking for Russia’s protection from “extremists” and still considers himself to be Ukraine’s legitimate leader.  The comment was published by three Russian news agencies.  Yanukovych is said to be staying in a sanitorium near Moscow. Yanukovych fled Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Saturday after last week’s violent crackdown on protesters which led to at least 82 deaths.

Meantime, armed men have seized government buildings in Ukraine’s Crimea region.  The regional prime minister is quoted as saying the men are pro-Russians.  Russia maintains a large naval base in southern Crimea that has strained relations between the countries for two decades.  Today’s seizure of the regional capital building came less than a day after news that Russia has ordered 150,000 troops to test their combat readiness in war games near the Ukrainian border.

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