Ukraine uprising: 'He has gone. He has gone. Glory to our brave heroes' - as President Yanukovych flees to the east, his beleaguered people taste freedom

Parliament votes to strip him of power and free former PM Yulia Tymoshenko from prison


The news of the resignation came to the crowds as they had spread out across the 180 rolling hectares of the presidential estate. The cheers rose first from those around the main mansion, fanned by the riverside walk, then the yacht hanger, the transported Roman arch, the private zoo, then the dairy and the hothouses for exotic plants. "He has gone, he has gone," began the chants. "Glory to our brave heroes."

It became clear a little later that although Viktor Yanukovych had indeed fled Kiev, he had refused to fall on his sword. Instead, he was in Kharkiv, among his loyalists, bitterly accusing his opponents of carrying out a coup and vowing not to give up.

The latest dramatic twist in the most momentous day in the 23 years of Ukraine's current independence had the opposition taking over the capital and most of the west of country; parliament voting to strip the President of power, as well as the freeing of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister. As she was being driven away from jail, Mr Yanukovych's implacable adversary declared: "Our homeland will, from today on, be able to see the sun and sky as a dictatorship had ended."

But the rapidly churning day also brought dark clouds as the prospects of descent into a civil war and the possible partition of the country came ominously closer. But that was not the immediate concern of the thousands who had flocked to Mezhyhirya in the city's suburbs to witness the style in which the President and his family had become accustomed to living at the same time as they had struggled with an economic downturn brought about by political instability.

A victim's funeral A victim's funeral The "self-defence volunteers" of the opposition had arrived there in the early hours of the morning after learning that the police and army units guarding the place had fled and there was no sign of Mr Yanukovych and his entourage. This was the first indication of a profound change of fortunes in the country's sustained confrontation.

Inside the President's residence and office were some domestic staff and members of the security service. They were told that any resistance would result in the doors being blasted and imprisonment if they survived.

"The first concern raised by the secret service guys was who would feed the animals and milk the cows. We assured them that free Ukraine would be able to cope with that," said Alex Gorgan, one of the senior activists. "There was a discussion on whether the whole complex should be locked up, but then it was decided that the people must be allowed to see for themselves. We shall carry out an inventory of his personal and official belongings later."

Celebrations in Independence Square Celebrations in Independence Square The doors to the residence were locked but members of the public were invited to range freely everywhere else. They took up the offer with alacrity: hundreds of cars soon packed the road to the estate, with families, protesters and the media crowding along.

Leana and Sergei Osanko had brought along their four-year-old daughter, Masha. Mrs Osanko said: "We haven't really had much chance to go out anywhere as a family because of all the troubles. My daughter liked puppet shows, but they had stopped. Once she gets a bit older, I'll explain to her how Yanukovych used to treat us like puppets. He played with us, while living in all this!"

Anton Yevtushenko was standing near by, shaking his head. "Do you know, I am a policeman and even most of us would not have been allowed in here. It was just for the people he trusted." He then hastily corrected himself: "What I meant was that I used to be a policeman, not any longer. Anyway, not even our very senior officers, some of whom have made a lot of money, would be able to live like this."

The President, his two sons and his coterie had amassed a fortune over the years, one of the many complaints directed against him, but his aesthetic taste was called into question. The residence was a strange amalgam of a Swiss chalet, a French period house and a Russian dacha. "Yanukovych Baroque?" someone suggested.

A protester outside the presidential residence A protester outside the presidential residence Sergei Lysenko, an art director, had firm views: "I would like to wring the neck of the architect who designed this, but I suppose he was forced to do this. And Yanukovych has been guilty of much more serious crimes than crimes against taste."

In the morning, at Kiev's Independence Square, the Maidan, they were accusing him of being a murderer. Two more bodies of protesters were laid out before the stage, the centrepiece of the city centre area, occupied since the beginning of the current upheaval when Mr Yanukovych refused to sign an accord with the European Union.

Orthodox priests delivered prayers amid wafting incense over the open caskets and bereaved women wept quietly. But this was also a military ceremony, with the helmets and body armour of the fallen pair laid out and the orations full of the need to continue fighting until the false leader had been driven out.

There were denunciations of the agreement signed by the main political parties with the President on Friday, brokered by the European Union, which was supposed to bring the crisis to a close. "The opposition leadership had failed us. They had given our names to something without consulting us. This will not be accepted," said one speaker. "We will not be giving anything up until that criminal resigns and is brought on trial."

Yanukovych speaking on TV earlier today Yanukovych speaking on TV earlier today Later, the news that Mr Yanukovych was in Kharkiv, a region with pro-Russian sympathies, caused apprehension that he might be planning a counter-attack. Groups of protesters, among them a right-wing faction which had been prominent in street clashes with the police, were calling up reinforcements.

Pressing the opposition to accept the compromise deal of last Friday, EU foreign ministers had warned that a failure to do so would lead to draconian action by the government. One of the brokers, Radek Sikorski of Poland, was heard telling a protest leader: "If you don't support this deal, you will have martial law. The army will come in. You will all be dead."

But it was becoming clear that the security forces, at least in the capital and the west of the country, were losing their appetites for the mounting violence that had culminated in the killings of 77 people last week. Such was the sheer lack of any visible sign of law enforcement in Kiev that a man chasing a thief who had taken his money in the city centre gave up after repeatedly shouting for police help. He then tried calling two police stations, but no one answered.

Others, however, were taking advantage of the situation to do a bit of sightseeing, walking up to the parliament and government ministries. "This was something we could not do for four years, ever since Yanukovych took over. Long before the protests, these places were always surrounded by security. He was so paranoid," Oleysa, a business executive, explained.

At the presidential estate in Mezhyhirya, there was a laboratory where official meals were supposedly tested in case of attempted poisoning. "We are checking to see if they actually found any poison, so we can keep it for when he returns," grinned Viktor Tereshchenko, an activist. " All these precautions – but this shows, when your time comes, you have to go."

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...


Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?