Viktor Yanukovych has made his first public appearance since being ousted, telling a news conference in Russia he would fight for his country.
Mr. Yanukovych said he was “not overthrown,” but was compelled to leave Ukraine after threats to his life.
He said the current parliament was “illegitimate”, and described those who drove him from power as “young neo-fascist thugs” representing only a minority of Ukrainians.
“What’s going on now is lawlessness, lack of authority, and terror. Decisions in parliament were taken under duress,” he said. “I can’t find words to characterize this new authority. These are people who advocate violence – the Ukrainian parliament is illegitimate.”
He said the only way out of the crisis was to implement in full the agreement he signed last week with opposition leaders and three European foreign ministers in Kiev.
Viktor Yanukovych said he spoke by telephone to Russian leader Vladimir Putin after arriving in the country but had not yet met with the Kremlin chief.
Speaking at a news conference in the Russian city of Rostov-On-Don, Yanukovych said he had arrived in Russia “thanks to a patriotically-minded young officer” without giving further details. He said he would only return to Ukraine once his personal security was assured.