Former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych has said that the 13-year sentence imposed on him by Kiev for high treason “was…written under the dictation of the authorities,” and the pressure that was put on the court to reach that verdict was ‘unprecedented’.
Yanukovych made his comments at a press conference held at the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s state-run Rossiya Segodnya media agency on Wednesday. He told reporters that he has not been put on the international wanted list by Interpol and that he moves “freely around Russia” and can “travel to any country of the world.”
Yanukovych was found guilty last month of “complicity in waging an aggressive war against Ukraine,” for calling on Moscow to intervene militarily in Ukraine to suppress the Euromaidan protests that ousted him from power in 2014.
Upon sentencing Yanukovych in absentia Vladyslav Devyatko, the judge in the Kyiv district court said that “with his deliberate illegal actions, Yanukovych committed a crime against the foundations of the national sovereignty of Ukraine, namely state treason.”
“The verdict has nothing to do with the law,” Yanukovych said on Wednesday.
“Everything [in the case] was built up on lies and hatred,” he told journalists. “The mass shootings at the Maidan were organised by the Maidan’s masterminds.”
“An independent group must be established to investigate the crimes on the Maidan,” Yanukovych insisted.
“If such a group had started investigations five years ago, there would have been no catastrophe,” Yanukovych said, claiming that the war in eastern Ukraine could have been averted and that “the situation in Crimea would have been different.”
Yanukovych also alleged that his life was under threat by “a group of 12 people” who were planning on assassinating both him and the chairman of the Political Council of the opposition platform – for life Viktor Medvedchuk.
On Tuesday the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case against Medvedchuk also on suspicion of “state treason” and “encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine”
According to the Prosecutor General’s office, the case was opened as a result of a statement made by the pro-Russian Medvedchuk at his party’s congress on January 29, where he called for an “autonomous region of Donbass”, a statement that was seen as reflecting the position of Russian President Vladimir Putin and calling into question the constitutional integrity of Ukraine.