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Politics

Ukraine's parliament asks ICC to put former President Yanukovych on trial

Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to refer the case of ousted President Victor Yanukovych to the ICC. Yanukovych remains at large. He is wanted for 'mass murder' in the wake of last week's shootings amid protest in Kyiv.

Tuesday's resolution to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to try the former president passed with support from an overwhelming majority of parliamentarians.

"We appeal to the International Criminal Court...to bring to justice Viktor Yanukovych and other high-ranking figures who gave and carried out criminal orders," the resolution said.

The court though said on Tuesday that it had not yet received a formal request.

"A government can make a declaration accepting the court's jurisdiction for past events," court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told the Reuters news agency.

The next step, he said, would be for the ICC's prosecutor to decide whether or not to open an investigation.

The charges brought against Yanukovych are in connection with the deaths of dozens of people last week, including many who were shot dead by police snipers, after clashes broke out between the security forces and anti-government protesters at Kyiv's central Maidan Square.

Yanukovych, whose decision last November to balk at signing an association agreement with the European Union sparked weeks of, at times, violent protests against his rule, fled the capital, Kyiv, on Friday.

A day later, Ukraine's opposition-dominated parliament voted to remove him from office.

Unity government delayed

Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchynov, who had originally said he planned to appoint by Tuesday a unity government to lead the country up to a presidential election to be held on May 25, has delayed those appointments until Thursday.

Ukraine postpones vote on new government

Turchynov told parliamentarians that he was in consultations with the country's security forces to look for ways of nipping any movement to split the country in the bud.

"In several regions of Ukraine there are very dangerous signs of separatism," he said. "It is necessary to localise this quickly," he added, without mentioning which regions he was referring to.

The country is generally seen as being split between a mainly pro-European west of the country and a mainly pro-Russian east.

Klitschko declares candidacy

A campaign for May 25 presidential election was launched Tuesday. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, the former heavyweight boxing champion, declared he would be a candidate.

Yanukovych's archrival Yulia Tymoshenko, who was freed from jail on Saturday and is planning medical treatment next month in Germany, has not yet declared whether she will run, according to her aides.

EU's Ashton remains in Kyiv

Also on Tuesday, the European Union's foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton continued her two-day visit to the crisis-stricken country.

"It is very important that Russia as a very important neighbour of Ukraine also lends its support to ensure the country can move forward in a way it wishes to," Catherine Ashton reporters after meeting with Ukrainian lawmakers.

Russia, meanwhile, toned down its rhetoric, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressing Moscow's "position of non-intervention in Ukraine's internal affairs."

pfd/ipj (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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