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Ukraine: Russia provides bolt-hole for fugitive president Yanukovych

Published 27/02/2014

Anti-government protesters, continue to their clash with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell
Anti-government protesters, continue to their clash with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell
Anti-government demonstrators guard government building near to Independence Square on February 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Prime Minister Yanukovych is said to have left Kiev for a eastern stronghold as the country's parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from office and call for new elections. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
An elderly woman sits on tyres at a barricade in independence square on February 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
A man reacts next to flowers left for anti-government demonstrators killed in clashes with police on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Prime Minister Yanukovych is said to have left Kiev for a eastern stronghold as the country's parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from office and call for new elections. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Anti-government protesters let off fireworks during demonstrations in Independence Square on February 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Anti-government protesters clash with police in Independence square on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
A young girl lays flowers left for anti-government demonstrators killed in clashes with police on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Flowers cover the ground where protesters were killed in a recent clash with riot police in Kiev's Independence Square (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
People turn on mobile phones and flash lights as a body of an anti-government protester killed in clashes with police is brought to Independence Square in Kiev (AP)
Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko addresses the crowd in central Kiev (AP)
Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko addresses the crowd in central Kiev, hours after being released from prison (AP)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko arrives to address anti-government demonstrators who remain in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti-government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti-government demonstrators remain in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti - government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: The helmets of an anti-government demonstrator killed in clashes with police is layed on display in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 21: A man presses against the side of a van carrying the body of Ustim Holodnyuk, 19, who was killed in fighting between anti-government protesters and police, after a funeral procession through Independence Square on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After a week that saw new levels of violence, with dozens killed, it is thought that the opposition and government representatives reached an agreement intended to resolve the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 21: People gather in Independence square as coffins of anti-government demonstrator killed in yesterdays clashes with police arrive in the square on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych is thought to have reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 21: Anti-government protesters man the front line barricades following yesterdays clashes with police in Independence square, on February 21, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych is thought to have reached a deal with the opposition to end the crisis, after all-night talks in Ukraine mediated by EU foreign ministers. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: Anti-government protestors guard the streets next to the Presidential offices on February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 22: A priest holds the helmet of an anti-government demonstrator killed in clashes with police before it is layed on display in Independence square February 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The offices of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been left unguarded, with the protesters in full control of the streets surrounding the government district. The opposition have called for elections to take place on May 25 and demanded that President Yanukovych stand down immediately. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A Ukrainian national flag outside Parliament in London during a protest in memory of killed anti-government protesters in Kiev (AP)
A boy in Lviv lights a candle in memory of the Ukrainian victims of clashes between police and protesters (AP)
Police officers rest next to Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Ferocious street battles between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital have left dozens dead and hundreds wounded in the past few days, raising fears that the ex-Soviet nation, whose loyalties are split between Russia and the West, is in an uncontrollable spiral of violence. (AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)
Activists burn tyres at barricades close to Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, as, according to the protesters, the resulting heavy black smoke does not allow riot police snipers to aim easily at protesters. Fierce clashes between police and protesters in Ukraine's capital have shattered the brief truce Thursday and an Associated Press reporter has seen dozens of bodies laid out on the edge of the protest encampment. (AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky)
Police block the way with an armored personnel carrier at the Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Ferocious street battles between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital have left dozens dead and hundreds wounded in the past few days, raising fears that the ex-Soviet nation, whose loyalties are split between Russia and the West, is in an uncontrollable spiral of violence.(AP Photo/Petro Zadorozhnyy)
Anti-government protesters man a barricade in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. A brief truce in Ukraine's embattled capital failed Thursday, spiraling into fierce clashes between police and anti-government protesters. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Medical workers add red crosses to their gowns at a makeshift hospital in the lobby of the Hotel Ukraine on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between anti-government protesters and police, with dozens killed. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: A woman clears ashes and debris with other anti-government protesters from a newly-occupied portion of Independence Square on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Dozens of protesters were reportedly been killed after violence flared again between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Women prepare Molotov cocktails for anti-government protesters near Independence Square on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Dozens of protesters were reportedly been killed after violence flared again between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Night falls as anti-government protesters rebuild barricades, following continued clashes with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters form a human chain as they carry rocks and tyres to rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: An anti-government protester takes cover from suspected sniper fire near the Hotel Ukraine on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between anti-government protesters and police, with dozens killed. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: People carry a wounded anti-government protester to a waiting ambulance on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between anti-government protesters and police, with dozens killed. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters prepare to push forward during continued clashes with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters continue to clash with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters continue to clash with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Medics tend to a gravely wounded anti-government protester in the lobby of the Hotel Ukraine, which has been converted to a medical clinic and makeshift morgue, on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between anti-government protesters and police, with dozens killed. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-governent protesters clear ashes and debris from a newly occupied portion of Independence Square on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Dozens of protesters were reportedly been killed after violence flared again between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling to oust President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Bodies of killed anti-government protesters are carried in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. A brief truce in Ukraine's embattled capital failed Thursday, spiraling into fierce clashes between police and anti-government protesters. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
*** BESTPIX *** KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 20: Anti-government protesters continue to clash with police in Independence square, despite a truce agreed between the Ukrainian president and opposition leaders on February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between police and anti-government protesters, who are calling for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the European Union. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Activists have a rest at the burning barricades, on the side of bloody clashes close to Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Fearing that a call for a truce was a ruse, protesters tossed firebombs and advanced upon police lines Thursday in Ukraine's embattled capital. Government snipers shot back and the almost medieval melee that ensued left scores of people dead. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Anti-government protesters man a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine (AP)
Police block the way with an armoured personnel carrier at the Ukraine's parliament in Kiev (AP)
An anti-government protester stands on a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev (AP)
Activists burn tyres at barricades close to Independence Square in Kiev (AP)
Anti-government protesters carry a catapult, used for hurling petrol bombs, at a barricade in central Kiev (AP)
A protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters use a large slingshot to hurl a Molotov cocktail at police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters attack a riot police bus in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Hundreds of protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital, after the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation last week seen as part of attempts to quash anti-government demonstrations. A group of radical activists began attacking riot police with sticks, trying to push their way toward the Ukrainian parliament building, which has been cordoned off by rows of police and buses. (AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky)
Opposition leader and former WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, center, addresses protesters near barricades between police and protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Emerging from hours-long talks with President Viktor Yanukovych, opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok asked demonstrators in Kiev for several more days of a truce, saying the president has agreed to ensure the release of dozens of detained protesters and stop further detentions. But other opposition leaders offered mixed reports on the outcome of the meeting, with Vitali Klitschko saying negotiations had brought little result. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
A broken mannequin lies on the roof of burned truck during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester using traffic sign as a shield attends clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester stands at a burning barricades between police and protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Priests of different faiths pray during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Opposition leader and former WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, center, addresses protesters near barricades between police and protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Emerging from hours-long talks with President Viktor Yanukovych, opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok asked demonstrators in Kiev for several more days of a truce, saying the president has agreed to ensure the release of dozens of detained protesters and stop further detentions. But other opposition leaders offered mixed reports on the outcome of the meeting, with Vitali Klitschko saying negotiations had brought little result. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
A protester breaks up a mannequin on the roof of the burned truck during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Opposition leader and former WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko addresses protesters near the burning barricades between police and protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Klitschko dove behind the wall of black smoke engulfing much of downtown Kiev on Thursday, pleading with both police and protesters to uphold the peace until the ultimatum, demanding that Yanukovych dismiss the government, call early elections and scrap harsh anti-protest legislation that triggered the violence, expires Thursday evening. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Opposition leader and former WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, center, addresses protesters near the burning barricades between police and protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Klitschko dove behind the wall of black smoke engulfing much of downtown Kiev on Thursday, pleading with both police and protesters to uphold the peace until the ultimatum, demanding that Yanukovych dismiss the government, call early elections and scrap harsh anti-protest legislation that triggered the violence. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014 as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. They demanded that President Yanukovych dismiss the government, call early elections and scrap harsh anti-protest legislation that triggered the violence. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev, as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
A protester aims fireworks at police during clashes, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed the downtown Ukrainian capital as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A protester walks pass burning tyres in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester gestures with the arms of a broken mannequin, during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters use a large slingshot to hurl rocks at police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester aims fireworks at police during clashes, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters carry tyres onto a fire during a clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters use a large slingshot to hurl rocks at police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed the downtown Ukrainian capital as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Protesters throw tires onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clad in improvised protective gear prepare for a clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. After a night of vicious streets battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed anew Monday in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
Protesters throw tires onto a fire during a clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clash with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Protestors pay their respects at a tribute to a man killed during clashes with police near Independence Square on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Protestors armed with shields and crude weapons, including sticks and chains, gather on Instytutska Street on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Men accused of being paid government thugs from Eastern Ukraine are detained by anti-government protestors in Independence Square on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Policeman block Bankova street on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Protestors armed with metal shields prepare to march form Independence Square on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Protestors armed with shields and crude weapons, including sticks and chains, gather on Instytutska Street on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Protestors armed with shields and crude weapons, including sticks and chains, gather on Instytutska Street on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Protestors armed with metal shields prepare to march from Independence Square on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Policeman block Bankova street on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 24: Policeman block Bankova street on January 24, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 23: A female protestor tries to warm her hands after shovelling snow near Independence Square on January 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in the Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 23: A line of policemen is seen through a burnt out bus on January 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in the Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 23: Protestors gather around a fire during a stand off with police on January 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in the Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 23: Protestors shovel snow into bags to reinforce barricades on streets leading to Independence Square on January 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in the Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 23: A protestor leads chants from on top of a wall of tires on January 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Talks to resolve the political stalemate in the Ukraine have failed as anti-government protests continue in the capital and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urges the government to call a snap election. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
Protesters throw tyres onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters throw tyres onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters throw tyres onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protesters throws stone during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Two people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A police officer aims his shotgun during clashes with protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Police prepare to clash with protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Helmeted riot police move in on hundreds of protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Two people whose dead bodies were found Wednesday near the site of clashes with police have been shot with live ammunition, prosecutors said Wednesday, an announcement that could further fuel violence that spilled on the streets of the Ukrainian capital after two months of largely peaceful protests. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
Tyres burn in the street, set alight by protesters in clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Police in Ukraines capital on Wednesday tore down protester barricades and chased demonstrators away from the site of violent clashes, hours after two protesters died after being shot, the first violent deaths in protests that are likely to drastically escalate the political crisis that has gripped Ukraine since late November. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A police officer aims his shotgun during clashes with protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A police officer aims his shotgun during clashes with protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester thrown a tyre during clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Two protesters whose bodies were found Wednesday near the site of clashes with police were shot with live ammunition, prosecutors said Wednesday, raising fears that their deaths the first after two months of largely peaceful protests could further fuel violence on the streets of the Ukrainian capital. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
A police officer aims his shotgun during clashes with protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester prepares to throw a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Two people whose dead bodies were found Wednesday near the site of clashes with police have been shot with live ammunition, prosecutors said Wednesday, an announcement that could further fuel violence that spilled on the streets of the Ukrainian capital after two months of largely peaceful protests.(AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
Protesters use fireworks during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Two people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Opposition supporters move a bus torched by protesters overnight to build a new barricade in central Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko headed for talks with the Ukrainian president on Tuesday after yet another night of violent street clashes between anti-government protesters and police. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
An elderly woman walks from police officers as they block a street during unrest in central Kiev, Ukraine,Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Anti-government protesters have held their ground through a night of violent street clashes in the Ukrainian capital, despite police moving in to dismantle barricades erected in a street leading to government offices. Police attempted to move in on the protest camp early Tuesday, but faced fierce resistance from demonstrators who tossed fire bombs and stones in their direction. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Pro-European Union activists sing the national anthem during unrest, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Anti-government protesters have held their ground through a night of violent street clashes in the Ukrainian capital, despite police moving in to dismantle barricades erected in a street leading to government offices. Police attempted to move in on the protest camp early Tuesday, but faced fierce resistance from demonstrators who tossed fire bombs and stones in their direction. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Riot police officers clash with anti-government protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Anti-government protesters have held their ground through a night of violent street clashes in the Ukrainian capital, despite police moving in to dismantle barricades erected in a street leading to government offices. Police attempted to move in on the protest camp early Tuesday, but faced fierce resistance from demonstrators who tossed fire bombs and stones in their direction. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
An opposition supporter, right, escorts people believed to be government-hired thugs away from an opposition camp in central Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. About thirty young men believed to be hired by the government to instigate violence were detained by opposition activists last night. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko accused the government of paying thugs to delegitimize the protests through violence. He said that the thugs, who were tasked with smashing windows and burning cars, were chased away by protesters. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters burn car tires as they clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. After a night of vicious street battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed again Monday in Ukraine's capital. Hundreds of protesters, many wearing balaclavas, hurled rocks and stun grenades. Police responded with tear gas. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester stands on top of a barricade during during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. After a night of vicious street battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed again Monday in Ukraine's capital. Hundreds of protesters, many wearing balaclavas, hurled rocks and stun grenades. Police responded with tear gas. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters fire at police with fireworks, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. After a night of vicious streets battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed anew Monday in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Hundreds of protesters, many wearing balaclavas, hurled rocks and police responded with tear gas. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters clad in improvised protective gear prepare for a clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. After a night of vicious streets battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed anew Monday in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Hundreds of protesters, many wearing balaclavas, hurled rocks and police responded with tear gas. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Riot police officers shoot rubber bullets and throw a stun grenade at anti-government protesters, during unrest in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. After a night of vicious streets battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed anew Monday in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters clash with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Protesters erected barricades from charred vehicles and other materials in central Kiev as the sound of stun grenades can be heard in the freezing air as police try to quell anti-government street protests. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester throws a Molotov cocktail during unrest in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. After a night of vicious streets battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed anew Monday in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Hundreds of protesters, many wearing balaclavas, hurled rocks and stun grenades and police responded with tear gas. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters throw Molotov cocktails during unrest in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Protesters erected barricades from charred vehicles in central Kiev as the sound of stun grenades pierced the freezing air, after a night of rioting. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Riot police officers clash with anti-government protesters during unrest in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. After a night of vicious streets battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed anew Monday. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
Protesters clash with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Protesters erected barricades in central Kiev with the sound of stun grenades heard in the freezing air as police try to quell anti-government street protests. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters clash with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Protesters erected barricades from charred vehicles and other materials in central Kiev as the sound of stun grenades can be heard in the freezing air as police try to quell anti-government street protests. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Protesters clash with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Protesters erected barricades from charred vehicles and other materials in central Kiev as the sound of stun grenades can be heard in the freezing air as police try to quell anti-government street protests. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Protesters erected barricades from charred vehicles in central Kiev as the sound of stun grenades pierce the freezing air, after a night of rioting sparked by passage of laws aims at curbing street protests. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
A protester throws a molotov cocktail towards a burning police car, in front of him, during clashes with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Anti-government protests in Ukraine's capital escalated into fiery street battles with police Sunday as thousands of demonstrators hurled rocks and firebombs to set police vehicles ablaze. Dozens of officers and protesters were injured. (AP Photo /Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Anti-government protests in Ukraine's capital escalated into fiery street battles with police as thousands of demonstrators hurled rocks and firebombs to set police vehicles ablaze. Dozens of officers and protesters were injured. (AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Anti-government protests in Ukraine's capital escalated into fiery street battles with police Sunday as thousands of demonstrators hurled rocks and firebombs to set police vehicles ablaze. Dozens of officers and protesters were injured. Police responded with stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons, but were outnumbered by the protesters. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
A protester runs during clashes with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Hundreds of protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital, after the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation last week seen as part of attempts to quash anti-government demonstrations. The violent scenes further escalated this ex-Soviet republic's political crisis and showed a rift among opposition leaders, one of whom fought bravely to stop the violence, while others condemned the events from afar. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
A protester stands in front of riot police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Hundreds of protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital, after the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation last week seen as part of attempts to quash anti-government demonstrations. A group of radical activists began attacking riot police with sticks, trying to push their way toward the Ukrainian parliament building, which has been cordoned off by rows of police and buses. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Orthodox priests pray as they stand between pro-European Union activists and police lines in central Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Anti-government protesters have held their ground through a night of violent street clashes in the Ukrainian capital, despite police moving in to dismantle barricades erected in a street leading to government offices. Police attempted to move in on the protest camp early Tuesday, but faced fierce resistance from demonstrators who tossed fire bombs and stones in their direction. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
A protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. The mass protests in Kiev, the capital, erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
A protester throws a stone towards a burning police bus in front of him, during clashes with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Hundreds of protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital, after the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation last week seen as part of attempts to quash anti-government demonstrations. The violent scenes further escalated this ex-Soviet republic?s political crisis and showed a rift among opposition leaders, one of whom fought bravely to stop the violence, while others condemned the events from afar. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)
Protesters attack a riot police bus in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Hundreds of protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital, after the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation last week seen as part of attempts to quash anti-government demonstrations. The violent scenes further escalated this ex-Soviet republics political crisis and showed a rift among opposition leaders, one of whom fought bravely to stop the violence, while others condemned the events from afar. (AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters throw stones towards riot police, a burning police bus in from of them, during clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Hundreds of protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital, after the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation last week seen as part of attempts to quash anti-government demonstrations. The violent scenes further escalated this ex-Soviet republics political crisis and showed a rift among opposition leaders, one of whom fought bravely to stop the violence, while others condemned the events from afar. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester throws a stone towards a burning police bus in front of him, during clashes with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Hundreds of protesters on Sunday clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital, after the passage of harsh anti-protest legislation last week seen as part of attempts to quash anti-government demonstrations. The violent scenes further escalated this ex-Soviet republics political crisis and showed a rift among opposition leaders, one of whom fought bravely to stop the violence, while others condemned the events from afar. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester stands at a burning barricades between police and protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Reporters take pictures during clashes between protesters and police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Reporters take pictures during clashes between protesters and police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester stands on top of a barricade during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. After a night of vicious street battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed again Monday in Ukraine's capital. Hundreds of protesters, many wearing balaclavas, hurled rocks and stun grenades. Police responded with tear gas. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters clash with police, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Protesters erected barricades in central Kiev with the sound of stun grenades heard in the freezing air as police try to quell anti-government street protests. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester throws rocks at police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester aims fireworks at police during clashes, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed the downtown Ukrainian capital as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester aims fireworks at police during clashes, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Priests of different faiths pray during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester aims fireworks at police during clashes, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed parts of downtown Kiev as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early elections or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-European Union activist stands near a barricade on Independence Square during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Police in Ukraine's capital on Wednesday tore down protester barricades and chased demonstrators away from the site of violent clashes, hours after two protesters died after being shot, the first violent deaths in protests that are likely to drastically escalate the political crisis that has gripped Ukraine since late November. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Protesters throw tires in a fire as they clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Riot policemen block Pro-European Union activists camping out in their tents on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
Riot policemen block Pro-European Union activists camping out in their tents on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
Ukrainian riot police guard Ukrainian government buildings in Kiev, Ukraine, early Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, center, and former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vladimir Ogryzko, right, arrive to meet Pro-European Union activists gathered on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, center, arrive to meet Pro-European Union activists gathered on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Ukrainian opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, center, arrive to meet Pro-European Union activists gathered on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Pro-European Union activists warm themselves around a bonfire as they gather in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Riot police get ready to displace pro-European Union activists from their barricades at the Ukrainian presidential administration building in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Riot police officers prepare to break through a barricade while trying to displace pro-European Union activists from the Ukrainian presidential administration building in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Riot police try to displace pro-European Union activists from their barricades at the Ukrainian presidential administration building in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Riot police push pro-European Union activists away from their barricades at the Ukrainian presidential administration building in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.
Ukrainian lawmaker and chairman of the opposition party Udar (Punch), WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko surrounded by police trying to stop possible clashes between police and Pro-European Union activists in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
Ukrainian riot police block Pro-European Union activists' tent camp next to the Ukrainian Government buildings in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
Pro-European Union activists gather in their tent camp on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
Ukrainian lawmaker and chairman of the opposition party Udar (Punch), WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko surrounded by police trying to stop possible clashes between police and Pro-European Union activists in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
Pro-European Union activists gather in their tent camp on Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
A man wearing Ukrainian national flag walks past Ukrainian riot police as they block the road next to Pro-European Union activists gathered on the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
Ukrainian protesters smash a statue of Vladimir Lenin with a sledgehammer, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Anti-government protesters have toppled the statue of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in central Kiev amid huge protests gripping Ukraine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
KIEV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 8: Anti-government protesters hold a large rally on Independence Square on December 8, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine. Thousands of people have been protesting against the government since a decision by Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to suspend a trade and partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of incentives from Russia. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 8: Anti-government protesters lock arms to block access to a street that leads to the Ukrainian parliament building, the site of a rally held by the ruling Party of Regions in support of the government and Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, on December 8, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine. Thousands of people have been protesting against the government since a decision by President Yanukovych to suspend a trade and partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of incentives from Russia. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Flowers from pro-European union activists lay in front of police outside the Presidential office in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, with various messages supporting their cause. Thousands of Ukrainians angered by police violence and the president's turn away from Europe are expected to converge on the capital Sunday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
KIEV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 8: Men dressed as Cossacks ride horses through the streets on December 8, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine. Thousands of people have been protesting against the government since a decision by Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to suspend a trade and partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of incentives from Russia. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
A teenager waves a national flag over a crowd of Pro-European Union activists gathered during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Over 200,000 angry Ukrainians occupied a central Kiev square on Sunday, to denounce President Viktor Yanukovychs decision to turn away from Europe and align this ex-Soviet republic with Russia, as massive protests continued for a third week. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
KIEV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 8: Anti-government protesters camp on Independence Square early in the morning on December 8, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine. Thousands of people have been protesting against the government since a decision by Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to suspend a trade and partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of incentives from Russia. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 8: Anti-government protesters eat breakfast inside the occupied International Centre of Culture and Arts on December 8, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine. Thousands of people have been protesting against the government since a decision by Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to suspend a trade and partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of incentives from Russia. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 7: Anti-government protesters sleep on the floor of the occupied Kiev City Hall on December 7, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine. Thousands of people have been protesting against the government since a decision by Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to suspend a trade and partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of incentives from Russia. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
A protester uses a chain as he and others clash with police outside of the presidential administration building in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. More than 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday. Thousands of demonstrators tried to storm the nearby presidential administration building, but were driven back by riot police using tear gas and flash grenades, which produce a loud bang but are not intended to cause injury. The standoff continued, with more demonstrators arriving. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters clash with police at Presidential office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian opponents of European integration with the European Union attend an action "Solemn funeral of Association with the EU" in support of the decision of President Viktor Yanukovych not sign agreements with the EU in the center of Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Nov. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainian police officers wear gas masks as they surround the Independence square during an opposition rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in Ukraine's capital after a deal that could have brought closer ties to the EU was shelved. Protesters are calling for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, who ditched the free trade pact with the EU at Friday's summit in favor of closer ties with Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Ukrainian opponents of European integration with the European Union attend an action "Solemn funeral of Association with the EU" in support of the decision of President Viktor Yanukovych not sign agreements with the EU in the center of Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday Nov. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
An unidentified Ukrainian man talks to police officers as they surround the Independence square wearing gas masks during an opposition rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in Ukraine's capital after a deal that could have brought closer ties to the EU was shelved. Protesters are calling for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, who ditched the free trade pact with the EU at Friday's summit in favor of closer ties with Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
An unidentified Ukrainian man talks to police officers as they surround the Independence square wearing gas masks during an opposition rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in Ukraine's capital after a deal that could have brought closer ties to the EU was shelved. Protesters are calling for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, who ditched the free trade pact with the EU at Friday's summit in favor of closer ties with Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainian riot police officers detain an activist during a rally demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, at the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up an anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Ukrainian riot police officers detain an activist during a rally demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, at the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up an anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Injured protesters look for medical help in ambulance after Ukrainian riot police broke up a rally demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, at the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov) (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Ukrainian riot police officers seal off the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the Ukrainian capital center before dawn, swinging truncheons and injuring many. The riot police used tear gas when they dispersed the crowd of about 400 protesters who were demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrators said.(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Ukrainian riot police officers detain a protester as they break up a rally at the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. The riot police used tear gas when they dispersed the crowd of about 400 protesters who were demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrators said. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Ukrainian riot police cordon off the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. The riot police used tear gas when they dispersed the crowd of about 400 protesters who were demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrators said. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
An Ukrainian orthodox priest points as police officers guard the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. The riot police used tear gas when they dispersed the crowd of about 400 protesters who were demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrators said. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainian riot police push people to an underground crossing after dispersing a rally at the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. The riot police used tear gas when they dispersed the crowd of about 400 protesters who were demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrators said. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainian Interior ministry soldiers guard the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Demonstrators in the Ukrainian capital have converged on a square outside a monastery where protesters driven away in a pre-dawn clash with police were taking shelter. Early Saturday, officers in riot gear moved against several hundred protesters at Independence Square in the city center, beating some with truncheons. Protesters are angered by President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union and have vowed to continue demonstrating despite the harsh police response. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Demonstrators protest outside St. Michaels Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Thousands of anti-government demonstrators in the Ukrainian capital have converged Saturday on a square outside a monastery where protesters driven away in a pre-dawn clash with police were taking shelter. Protesters are angered by President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union and have vowed to continue demonstrating despite the harsh police response. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Demonstrators gather during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Demonstrators gather during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Protesters on excavator call to police go away during clash with police at Presidential office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Lawmaker and chairman of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar (Punch), WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, left on the platform, waves a flag during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Lawmaker and chairman of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar (Punch), WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, left on the platform, waves a flag during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Smoke engulfs protesters and police as they clash outside the presidential office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clash with police at Presidential office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Protesters clash with police at the presidential office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Injured protesters receive medical help in ambulance after Ukrainian riot police broke up a rally demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, at the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Ukrainian protesters gather over barrels with bonfires to warm themselves at the Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, before they were dispersed. Police in the Ukrainian capital broke up a large anti-government demonstration in the city center before dawn Saturday, swinging truncheons and injuring many. The riot police used tear gas when they dispersed the crowd of about 400 protesters who were demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, demonstrators said. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Demonstrators gather during a rally in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. As many as 100,000 demonstrators chased away police to rally in the center of Ukraine's capital on Sunday, defying a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over the president's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Russia has granted protection to the fugitive Ukrainian president, reports say, as dozens of heavily armed gunmen seized control of government buildings in Ukraine's Crimea region and raised the Russian flag.

The moves pose an immediate challenge to Ukraine's new authorities as they sought to set up an interim government for the country, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Some 150,000 Russian soldiers carried out military exercises and fighter jets patrolled the border.

A respected Russian news organisation, meanwhile, reported that President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven out of Kiev by a three-month protest movement, was staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow.

"I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists," Yanukovych said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday.

Shortly after, the same three Russian news agencies quoted an unnamed Russian official saying that Yanukovych's request for protection "was satisfied on the territory of Russia".

Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych's flight, condemned the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a "crime against the government of Ukraine." He warned that any move by Russian troops from their base in Crimea "will be considered a military aggression."

"Unidentified people with automatic weapons, explosives and grenades have taken over the governmental buildings and the Parliament building in the autonomous region of Crimea," he said. "I have given orders to the military to use all methods necessary to protect the citizens, punish the criminals, and to free the buildings."

In Kiev, MPs were expected to approve the new government that will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is on the verge of financial collapse.

Protest leaders said on Wednesday that they would propose Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's new prime minister. The 39-year-old served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010, and is widely viewed as a technocratic reformer who enjoys the support of the US.

Yanukovych fled after riot police attacked protesters in Kiev's central square, killing more than 80 people, and European and Russian officials intervened. He has not been seen publicly since Saturday, when he said he remained the legitimately elected president - a position that has been backed by Russia.

Russia's RBK news organisation has reported that Yanukovych was staying at the Barvikha sanatorium, which is run by the presidential administration's property department. The spokesman for this department said he has no information about this.

The RBK report was impossible to confirm, but security at the Ukraina Hotel was unusually heavy, with police watching from parked vehicles outside and guards posted throughout the lobby. Some of Yanukovych's allies, also reported to have been at the hotel, may have still been there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman also said he had no information about Yanukovych's reported arrival in Moscow.

In a clear warning to Ukraine, Putin on Wednesday ordered massive military exercises involving most of the military units in western Russia. On Thursday, as part of the exercises, 90 fighter jets were put on combat alert and were patrolling the border with Ukraine, the Defence Ministry said.

Crimea buildings surrounded

Red carpet welcome for Merkel

Russia orders combat readiness test  

The military also announced measures to tighten security at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula in southeastern Ukraine.

The military manoeuvres prompted a sharp rebuke from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned Russia that any military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake".

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern about the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and vowed to protect their interests. It said Russia "will have a firm and uncompromising response to violations of the rights of compatriots by foreign states."

Russia has accused Ukraine's interim leaders of failing to control radicals who threaten the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine's east and south, which includes the Crimean Peninsula.

Witnesses said the gunmen in Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital, wore unmarked camouflage uniforms and carried rocket-propelled grenades, sniper rifles and other weapons. They raised the Russian flag over the local parliament building.

The men did not immediately voice any demands and threw a flash grenade in response to a journalist's questions. They wore black and orange ribbons, a Russian symbol of the victory in World War II, and put up a sign reading "Crimea is Russia."

Maxim, a pro-Russian activist who refused to give his last name, said he and other activists had camped overnight outside the local parliament in Simferopol when 50-60 heavily armed men wearing flak jackets and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers and sniper rifles took over the building.

"Our activists were sitting there all night calmly, building the barricades," he said. "At 5 o'clock unknown men turned up and went to the building. They got into the courtyard and put everyone on the ground.

"They were asking who we were. When we said we stand for the Russian language and Russia, they said: 'Don't be afraid. We're with you.' Then they began to storm the building bringing down the doors," he said. "They didn't look like volunteers or amateurs; they were professionals. This was clearly a well-organised operation."

The local government said Crimean Prime Minister Anatoly Mogilyev had tried to negotiate with the gunmen but was told "they were not authorised to negotiate and present demands".

Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said on his Facebook page that police were sealing off the area.

"Measures have been taken to counter extremist actions and not allow the situation to escalate into an armed confrontation in the centre of the city," he said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia, dropped further to a new record low of 11.25 to the US dollar, a sign of the country's financial distress.

One of the new government's first tasks will be to seek rescue loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

 

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