Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych denies resignation claims as security chiefs withdraw from conflict with people

Demonstrators take control of government buildings in Kiev despite Friday's pact to restore 2004 constitution

Kiev

A spokesman for the President of Ukraine has denied that he will be offering his resignation as four heads of security forces, including the police's Berkut anti-riot units, told parliament that they will withdraw from all conflict, which has so far killed at least 77 in the country.

The AFP news agency tweeted this afternoon that Viktor Yanukovych pledged to resign, quoting a Ukraine lawmaker, but this was later rebuffed by the president's spokesperson. The four security leaders represented the paratroop unit of the military, the Berkut anti-riot police, Alfa special operations unit and military intelligence. The Interior Ministry had already signalled its allegiance to anti-government protests under a new minister from the ranks of the opposition.

The country had been in a state in uncertainty this morning with no sign of the President in Kiev and the streets empty of his security forces.

Members of the public, including journalists, were able to enter his residential complex, which was being guarded by protesters armed with clubs.

The doors to the building were locked and we were told by the “self defence volunteers” that ministers would be allowed in to conduct official business.

At Independence Square, Maidan, where the opponents of the government had based themselves since unrest began four months following the President’s refusal to sign an accord with the European Union, some believed that an alternative administration would be in place in days made up of opposition politicians.

At the same time, rumours were circulating in the city that the government had fallen and Mr Yanukovich had fled the country, with Russia a favoured destination.

“He's not here [in Kiev], none of his officials or anyone linked directly to the administration are here,” Ostap Kryvdyk, a protest leader, told reporters in the grounds of the presidential administration building.

Reuters quoted a “senior security source” who claimed Mr Yanukovych was still in the country.

“Everything is ok with him,” the source said. “He is in Ukraine.” Asked whether the embattled leader was in the capital, he replied: “I cannot say.”

Hanna Herman, a close aide of the President, told reporters he was visiting the city of Kharkiv in east Ukraine, where many of his supporters are based.

Some were concerned that Mr Yanukovich was in the process of mobilising his supporters from the pro-Russian area to carry out a counter-coup.

Right-wing fringe groups, who had played a prominent part in the street protests, were calling up reinforcements to “defend the people”.

Read more:

Robert Fisk: Ukraine’s future is tied up with Syria’s – and Vladimir Putin is crucial to both
Ukraine crisis: All eyes on the oligarchs as political sands shift

Saturday’s extraordinary developments followed the signing of an agreement between the government and the opposition, brokered by the European Union, under which an interim cross-party administration was due to be formed and elections held by December, three months ahead of schedule.

Reuters quoted a Reuters quoted a "senior security source" who claimed Mr Yanukovych was still in the country “Everything is OK with him,” the source said. “He is in Ukraine.”

The 2004 constitution was to be restored within 48 hours and a national unity government formed within 10 days before constitutional reform starts to balance the President's powers with that of government and parliament.

A presidential election will be held no later than December 2014 and an investigation into acts of violence will be monitored by the Council of Europe.

The agreement promises that authorities will not impose another state of emergency and “refrain from the use of violence” after reports that police opened fire on protesters.

But it may be too little, too late to pacify anti-government protesters who united in spite of dramatically differing political views with the sole aim of ousting Mr Yanukovych.

Opposition leaders were reportedly booed on Friday as they spoke to crowds following the deal, which many do not trust.

Thousands of protesters remain on the streets of Ukraine despite a deal signed on Friday aiming to end the political crisis Thousands of protesters remain on the streets of Ukraine despite a deal signed on Friday aiming to end the political crisis William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged all sides to adhere to the agreement “in good faith” and pledged the UK’s support through transition.

An emboldened parliament also voted to free Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and implacable enemy of Mr Yanukovich who is serving a seven year sentence after being convicted of abuse of power.

Ukrainian lawmakers then voted in favour of accelerating her release under quicker procedures, without requiring the President's endorsement.

As parliament met today, Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the opposition Udar party, told MPs the President had left Kiev.

He added: “We must, as the people demand, adopt a resolution calling on Yanukovych to immediately resign.” 

Ukraine's parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak became the latest high-profile Yanukovych loyalist to resign on Saturday.

Oleksander Turchynov, a senior member of the opposition Fatherland Party and ally of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, was elected by parliament to replace him.

A large number of MPs from the President’s party has defected and so, in small numbers, are members of the security forces.

The crowd at the Maidan were chanting: “Yanukovych, you’re finished. Go to hell.”

Additional reporting by Lizzie Dearden

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
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

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?