Skip to main content

Where in the world is the ousted president of Ukraine?

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 1705 GMT (0105 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ousted President Viktor Yanukovych issued a statement condemning interim government
  • Ukrainian authorities issued a warrant for Yanukovych's arrest last week
  • Ukraine gained independence in 1991

(CNN) -- Ukraine's ousted President Viktor Yanukovych went missing in the midst of upheaval in his country, but his whereabouts probably won't be secret for long -- assuming he shows up at his own news conference Friday.

Yanukovych will hold the conference at 5 p.m. Friday in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Russian state news agency Itar-Tass said Thursday.

Ria Novosti, another state news agency, reported that anonymous government sources said Thursday that Yanukovych was in Russia and that Russian authorities accepted his request for security.

The fugitive president issued a statement to Russian news agencies condemning the country's interim government and alleging that recent actions in the Ukrainian Parliament are illegitimate.

Ukraine going forward
Fmr. Ukraine Pres.: I was not overthrown
Gunmen seize Crimean parliament

Months of anti-government protests reached a bloody climax last week, when street clashes between demonstrators and security forces left more than 80 dead. The protesters' anger was focused on Yanukovych.

Ukrainian authorities issued a warrant for Yanukovych's arrest last week over civilian deaths during the protests.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Kiev approved opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Batkivschina, or Fatherland, Party as prime minister.

Yanukovych wouldn't be the first controversial figure facing criminal charges to find safe haven in Russia. U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been there since June, having been granted a one-year asylum.

Russia has strong ties to Ukraine that extend beyond the supply lines providing most of the country's natural gas.

Ukraine gained independence in 1991; before that, it had, like Russia, been part of the Soviet Union. More historically, most ethnic Ukrainian territory had been part of the Russian Empire. Russian language is spoken by 24% of the population, according to the CIA World Factbook. About 17% of the Ukrainian population is ethnic Russian.

During the Soviet era, in 1954, Russia gave Ukraine a region called Crimea, which has since been in the south of Ukraine and is experiencing unrest this week. Dozens of armed men seized the regional government administration building and parliament there Thursday.

Many ethnic Russians still live in Crimea, where support for Russia is strong. Part of Russia's navy is based in Crimea; a base in the city of Sevastopol that has been there for 230 years.

The eastern part of Ukraine is also heavily influenced by Russia in terms of language, culture and business. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reported this week that many pro-Russians there "are very afraid of what might happen next, who are afraid that their culture, their heritage are in danger, who feel that the Russian language -- which has always had a special status here in Ukraine -- might be in danger of becoming marginalized as well."

MAP: How Ukraine is divided

READ: Viktor Yanukovych: I'm still Ukraine's President, will fight for its future

READ: Crimea: 5 things you need to know

CNN's Pierre Meilhan, Richard Allen Greene, Marie-Louise Gumuchian. Laura Smith-Spark, Ingrid Formanek and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Donetsk's neediest line up for food handouts. There are long queues at the bus station as people try to leave town. There are no banks left open.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1025 GMT (1825 HKT)
Barking overwhelms the thud of artillery fire. An animal shelter is crammed with 1,000 dogs, many orphans of the conflict with owners who have fled or been killed.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 0751 GMT (1551 HKT)
Reza Sayah looks into why thousands of Ukrainians have left their old lives to volunteer to fight.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva speaks to The New Republic's Linda Kinstler about Putin's motives with Ukraine and China.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1436 GMT (2236 HKT)
President Barack Obama speaks at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 2258 GMT (0658 HKT)
The Commander of NATO forces in Europe says Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian troops -- all heading into Ukraine.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1258 GMT (2058 HKT)
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
On a country road in eastern Ukraine, a scene of bucolic tranquility was suddenly interrupted by the aftermath of carnage.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0000 GMT (0800 HKT)
CNN's Diana Magnay reports from the front lines in the Ukrainian conflict.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1126 GMT (1926 HKT)
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
August 23, 2014 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
ADVERTISEMENT