Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Ynukovych has called on Russia to ensure his personal safety.
In a statement to Russian news agencies Yanukovych is quoted as looking for protection from “extremists”, continuing:
“I still see myself as the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state, elected by Ukrainian citizens in a free vote”
Russian officials have reportedly confirmed that Russia has granted his request for personal protection.
Yanukovych’s call for Russian support comes amid rising tensions in the Crimea region of Ukraine, where pro-Russia armed gunmen have occupied government offices and scuffles have broken out between pro-Russia and pro-Europe protesters.
Yanukovych has been missing since disappearing last weekend, with Ukrainian authorities dismissing him and president and issuing a warrant for his arrest in his absence.
Yesterday there were conflicting reports about his whereabouts, with Ukrainian deputy general prosecutor Mykola Golomcha claiming he was still in Ukraine, while Russian news agencies reported that he had fled to Moscow.