Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych warned Tuesday that “dark forces” are working to foment civil war in the troubled former Soviet nation, RIA Novosti reported.
Speaking in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovych insisted he not only remains Ukraine’s president, but that he also heads the armed forces.
Yanukovych last month fled the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, leaving a power vacuum quickly filled by opposition forces that had for months been protesting a government decision to back away from a proposed deal to bolster economic and political relations with the EU.
The appearance follows persistent rumors in Ukrainian media that Yanukovych had died of unspecified causes, speculation that he sought to stamp out in Tuesday’s press conference.
“Since various rumors are being spread about me in Ukraine, I would like to say that I’m alive and I feel good,” he said. “But I cannot but with grave alarm see what is happening in Ukraine.”
Yanukovych urged the international community to reject what he described as the unconstitutional coup that led to his ouster and to deny recognition of elections taking place in Ukraine on May 25.
“[Kiev] is being patrolled by masked men wearing armbands, there are growing outrages against the citizens of Ukraine,” he said. “They have fired top army officers, those who do not want to use the armed forces against the civilian population in the southeast of the country.”
Yanukovych also accused interim authorities of planning to give weapons to what he called “militant nationalist organizations.”