'I am sure Ukraine will join the EU': Former PM Yulia Tymoshenko is freed hours after parliament ousts President Viktor Yanukovych

Elections will be brought forward to 25 May

The former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, has been freed from prison and said that she is certain that the country will now join the EU, just hours after MPs voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Our homeland will from today on be able to see the sun and sky as a dictatorship has ended," Tymoshenko told reporters after her release from the hospital where she had been held under prison guard for most of the time since she was jailed in 2011.

Tymoshenko, who was on her way to Kiev to join the protesters in Independence Square, said she will "make it so that no drop of blood that was spilled will be forgotten."

She also said that she is "sure that Ukraine will be a member of the European Union in the near future and this will change everything," according to the Interfax news agency.

The embattled leader Yanukovych has been formally impeached and declared constitutionally unable to carry out his duties.

MPs clapped and started singing the national anthem after the announcement was made and set an early election on 25 May.

A huge cheer rose up from thousands of protesters assembled in Independence Square in Kiev when the news came through.

Many government buildings have been taken over by activists, including Mr Yanukovych's own office and residence.

In a television statement, the President had already declared all decisions taken by parliament on Saturday as "illegitimate" and denounced the opposition movement as a coup run by "vandals".

"They are trying to scare me. I have no intention to leave the country. I am not going to resign, I'm the legitimately elected president," Yanukovych said in a televised statement.

"Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and banditry and a coup d'etat," he said. "I will do everything to protect my country from breakup, to stop bloodshed."

Latest:

Country is descending into a chaos of warring extremist groups
EU aims to woo new leadership with aid deal
Comment: Too simple to describe this as a case of East vs West
Putin promises to work with Merkel and keep crisis-hit country ‘intact’

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the US Secretary of State John Kerry this evening that the peace deal signed yesterday had been "sharply degraded by opposition forces' inability or lack of desire" to respect it.

"Illegal extremist groups are refusing to disarm and in fact are taking Kiev under their control with the connivance of opposition leaders," Lavrov told Kerry by telephone, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.

Lavrov "reminded" Kerry that President Vladimir Putin had urged US President Barack Obama during an earlier call to "use every opportunity to stop the illegal actions of radicals and return the situation to constitutional channels", it said.

Additional reporting by Reuters and the Associated Press

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy