Former Ukraine Prime Minister freed and President is on the run
Following a day of extraordinary drama, Ukraine faces a new and uncertain future after the country's parliament voted to impeach the president, and Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, was released from prison. She has pledged to stand in elections in May.We just have to hope Putin does not send in troops to "restore order." At this point those who wanted closer ties with Russia appear to have overplayed their hand. Hopefully, Ukraine will have a more responsive government in the future and one that understands the aspirations of the people.
As the president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the capital, and parliament voted to strip him of his powers, he likened the actions of his opponents to those of the Nazis and said he would battle to stay in power. However, those willing to stand by him diminished by the hour as aides fled Ukraine, the army said it would not get involved, and police in key eastern areas said they were "with the people".
In east Ukraine and Crimea there was fury at events in Kiev, and all eyes will now be on Russia, where foreign minister Sergei Lavrov labelled the opposition "rampaging hooligans" and called on Europe to rein them in.
There are fears that, with Yanukovych losing control of the west of the country and Kiev, Russia may attempt to promote separatist movements in Crimea, which is largely ethnically Russian.
William Hague, the foreign secretary, said that the UK and itsEuropean Union allies would support a new government "as and when it is formed" and urged politicians in Ukraine to work together.
In a dramatic twist, Tymoshenko was set free on Saturday evening, heading straight to Kiev where she hailed gathered protesters as "heroes" and urged them to continue their fight until change had been secured.
"This is your victory because no politician, no diplomat could do what you have done, you have removed this cancer from this country," she told them. Tymoshenko said she regretted not being with them as they manned the barricades and people were killed. "Every bullet that killed those people was a bullet in the heart of all of us," she said. "You have to remember their faces, you have to have their faces before your eyes and remember their sacrifices," she said.
"Now you have a right to rule this country and decide for this country. Ukraine has an opportunity to build its own future today." Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for "abuse of office", in a trial many said was Yanukovych's revenge against his arch-rival. She spent much of that time under armed guard in a hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv being treated for back problems.