KIEV, Ukraine (CNN, Feb. 22nd, 2014) — Embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych insisted in an interview aired on Ukrainian TV Saturday that he is not resigning and not leaving the country.
A short time later, Ukraine’s Parliament voted unanimously to remove Yanukovych from office. It’s not clear if this is binding. The Parliament also voted to hold new elections on May 25, a key opposition demand. Yanukovych recorded his defiant statement in Kharkiv, a pro-Russian stronghold in the eastern part of Ukraine.
He said he would continue to work to stop the bloodshed and prevent further division within the country.
It came after his absence from the capital, Kiev — a day after he signed a landmark peace deal with the opposition to end days of bloody protests — fueled speculation he might heed opposition calls for him to stand down. At the presidential residence in a Kiev suburb, groundskeepers and gate personnel kept watch over living quarters that were vacant.
Gone were the Ukrainian President’s guards. And opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said Yanukovych had left town, a day after European Union leaders helped broker the peace agreement.
“Unfortunately, President Yanukovych who did not hear the people has withdrawn from his constitutional duties himself. And today he has already left the capital. Millions of citizens see only one option in the current situation — it is calling the early presidential election,” Klitschko said Saturday.