Europe

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Ukraine: Ex-presidential aide shot as hunt for Yanukovich goes on

Published 25/02/2014|14:42

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Members of self defence units stand guard at the parliament building in Kiev February 25
Members of self defence units stand guard at the parliament building in Kiev February 25

Andriy Klyuev, a former presidential aide who is said by the new Ukrainian authorities to be on the run with ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich, has been shot in the leg, his spokesman said.

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Spokesman Artem Petrenko said a "trusted source" had told him that Klyuev, the head of the presidential administration until Yanukovich was toppled on Saturday, had come under fire twice and was wounded, but his life was not in danger.

Protesters see Klyuev, 49, probably Yanukovich's only remaining ally, as being behind a police crackdown on pro-Europe students in Kiev on Nov. 30 which triggered mass unrest and the beginning of the protest movement that brought down Yanukovich.

Petrenko said by telephone that he had not spoken to Klyuev, 49, whose wealth is put at more than $200 million, himself and he did not know where Klyuev was.

He also said he did not know whether Klyuev was with Yanukovich, who fled Kiev on Friday and is wanted by the Ukrainian authorities to face accusations of murder following a three-month revolt against his rule and street clashes in which more than 80 people had been killed, many of them apparently by police shooting.

After parliament officially ousted him on Saturday, Ukraine's new authorities opened a case of mass murder against him and on Tuesday voted to send him and two other senior law enforcement figures to the International Criminal Court in The Hague when they are captured.

Ukraine's new authorities say Yanukovich, accompanied by Klyuev, were in the Balaclava region of Crimea in southern Ukraine late on Sunday. But they have since disappeared.

Klyuev, an ally of Yanukovich going back at least 20 years when they worked together in regional politics in the eastern mining region of Donetsk, Yanukovich's home base.

Staying close to Yanukovich when he entered national politics, Klyuev was elected a deputy of his Party of Regions.

As one of Yanukovich's closest allies, he was entrusted with delivering a victory for the Regions in a parliamentary election in late 2013 and looked set to be given the task of ensuring Yanukovich's re-election in March 2015 before unrest broke out.

As one of Yanukovich's most trusted lieutenants, he went to Brussels late in 2013 to complain to the EU over Russian trade pressure in the build-up to an expected signing of a free trade deal with the EU bloc.

It was Yanukovich's decision to ditch that deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia which provoked a people's backlash leading to mass protests and Yanukovich's fall.

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