26 Feb 2014

Ukraine warned of separatism danger

11:38 am on 26 February 2014

Ukraine's interim president has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Oleksandr Turchynov's comments came amid continuing opposition in Ukraine's Russian-speaking regions to the new administration in Kiev. The formation of a unity government has been delayed until Friday to allow further consultation.

Oleksandr Turchynov: separatism is a 'serious threat'.

Oleksandr Turchynov: separatism is a 'serious threat'. Photo: AFP

Addressing parliament, Mr Turchynov said he would meet law enforcement agencies to discuss the risk of separatism in regions with large ethnic Russian populations. Separatism is a "serious threat", he said.

Anyone held responsible for separatist moves should be punished, his press service quoted Mr Turchynov as saying in a later statement, Reuters reports.

Earlier, there were reports that one of Mr Yanukovych's former aides, Andriy Kliuyev, had been shot and wounded.

His car is said to have been attacked while he was travelling back to Kiev from the Crimea after tendering his resignation to the former president.

Mr Kliuyev, the former head of the presidential administration, is said to have left Kiev with the president when he fled the capital at the weekend.

Parliament has now voted in favour of trying Mr Yanukovych at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the BBC reports. He's accused of being behind the deaths of more than 100 protesters at the hands of the police, many of them shot by snipers.

MPs also want former interior minister Vitali Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka tried.

Mr Yanukovych has been missing since last week. He was last reportedly seen on Monday in Balaklava, on the Crimean peninsula. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Meanwhile, American secretary of state John Kerry has said Ukraine is not caught in a battle between East and West.

Speaking in Washington after talks with British foreign secretary William Hague, Mr Kerry said: "This is not a zero-sum game, it is not West versus East, it should not be, it is not Russia or the United States or other choices.

"This is about the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians making a choice about their future. We want to work with Russia, with other countries, with everybody available to make sure this is a peaceful process from this day forward."