Ukrainian court orders arrest of former president on treason charges
A Ukrainian court ordered the arrest in absentia of former President Viktor Yanukovych on charges of treason.
The pro-Russia former Ukrainian president was previously slapped with a 13-year jail sentence in absentia for treason, but the recent order focused on a 2010 agreement he signed with Russia that extended a lease for Russian maritime facilities in Crimea, per Reuters.
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Yanukovych’s move breached Ukraine’s Constitution “to the detriment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the defense, state and economic security of Ukraine, provided assistance to a foreign state,” the Ukrainian court determined, according to the outlet.
The court issued the order after determining the 2010 agreement, known as the Kharkiv Pact, laid the groundwork for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed Monday.
Yanukovych, who is in exile outside of Ukraine at an undisclosed location, was ousted following the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. Demonstrators took to the streets over his refusal to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, as well as concerns about corruption allegations, indications that he was working on behalf of Russia, and his crackdown on dissenters. He was voted out of power by the Ukrainian Parliament in 2014.
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Yanukovych received a 13-year jail sentence from a Ukrainian court in 2019 over a request he sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2014 for the Russian military intervention. Ukrainian prosecutors informed Yanukovych last year they were investigating whether his signing of the Kharkiv Pact amounted to treason. He is unlikely to face arrest unless he returns to Ukraine.
He fled to Russia following his ouster and is rumored to be a contender to replace President Volodymyr Zelensky if Russia overthrows Ukraine’s government. During his trek to Russia in 2014, he smuggled roughly 20 people out of Ukraine with assistance from Russia, according to Ukrainian officials. The Kremlin annexed Crimea following his ouster and has maintained control of the peninsula ever since.