KIEV, Ukraine - Days following a truce announcement which ended the bloody riots which rocked the Ukrainian capital, news outlets are reporting that the ousted leader is in fact now a fugitive.
As the sign held by the protesters to the right depicts, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych's flight into hiding came just hours before a warrant was issued for his arrest. By fleeing, Yanukovych conferred upon himself a dubious honor, as he joins the ranks of fallen leaders who failed to heed the voice of the people.
Leaders who may have transitioned from power with dignity, but chose to resist compromise, a position which ultimately paved the way for their own destruction.
Courtesy of the Global Post, recent despots who retreated in ignominy are listed below:
- Nicolae Ceaucescu, Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party (1965 – 1989)
- Saddam Hussein, deposed President of Iraq (1979 – 2003)
- Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libyan Dictator (1979 – 2011)
- Hosni Mubarak, deposed president of Egypt (1981 – 2011)
- Ben Ali, deposed President of Tunisia (1987 – 2011)
On Friday, 21 February 2014, after meeting with opposition leaders, President Yanukovych, announced that he had signed a peace deal. However, it appears that shortly after closing the deal, Yanukovych recognized the writing on the wall and chose to flee into hiding.
There is speculation that Moscow, a once staunch supporter of Yanukovych during the deadly three-month standoff which resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, recognized the futility of its calculated bid to bring the ex-Soviet nation back under its control. Yanukovych must have realized that he had lost both their confidence and support, and this may have been a deciding factor in his decision.
The peaceful uprising that turned violent earlier this month was triggered when Yanukovych under pressure from Russia, opted to cease political and trade deal discussion with the EU, in lieu of a $15 billion bailout to Ukraine from Russia. Ukranian citizens viewed this as a subversive effort by Russia to undermine Ukraine’s growth toward increased democracy.
Most Ukranians believed that this financial dependency would erode decades of political autonomy, economic expansion, and democratic freedoms realized since gaining their independence in 1990. Russia's offer of financial support was, in the opinion of most, a bid to once again impose a draconian style of rule reminiscent of the Soviet Union.
During the violent unrest, Moscow publicly decried the “treasonous” activities of the opposition, yet stopped short of sending military support to keep Yanukovych in power. When Yanukovych acquiesced to the opposition’s demands, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev immediately put distance between Russia and Ukraine by declaring that his government could not have full ties with a leader who was being tramped on like a "doormat.” The unrest in Ukraine is seen as a potentially destabilizing influence that could adversely impact Russia's interests.
It would seem that Yanukovych’s inability to suppress the opposition through any means necessary, no matter how heinous or distasteful, has been interpreted by the Kremlin as “biting the hand that fed him.” A new Ukrainian leader has not been appointed, and at this point Russia views any interim government as illegitimate. It remains to be seen if Moscow will honor its promised financial support or abandon all efforts to manipulate this sovereign nation back under its control.
- Ukraine: warrant out for Viktor Yanukovych's arrest, says interior minister (oneislandtwonationsblogspotcom.typepad.com)
- Manhunt for Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovich accused of 'mass murder' (thisismoney.co.uk)
- Fugitive Viktor Yanukovych out of sight but running out of options (theguardian.com)
- Ukraine authorities issue arrest warrant for Viktor Yanukovych (o.canada.com)
- Ukraine appoints acting leader as video shows 'Viktor Yanukovych fleeing presidential estate' (mirror.co.uk)