Ukraine issues arrest warrant for missing leader

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Ukraine issues arrest warrant for missing leader
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)
KIEV, UKRAINE - JANUARY 23: Vitali Klitschko , an opposition leader and former world champion boxer, visits the barricade on Hrushevskoho street in the morning to address protesters on January 23, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Protests continue in Kiev, a day after three people were confirmed killed during the uprising that began as protests against the Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovich snubbing the European Union free trade offer for a Russian offer. (Photo by Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)
A protester beats a dumpster after 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 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)
AP10ThingsToSee - 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 for an early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise on Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Protesters walk past the statue of legendary Ukrainian football coach Valeriy Lobanovskiy covered in ice mixed with ash outside Dynamo Kiev stadium following clashes between pro-EU demonstrators and riot police in Kiev on January 23, 2014. Ukraine's opposition agreed to observe an eight-hour truce in clashes with security forces after five days of deadly fighting but threatened to go on the attack if the government failed to agree concessions. Opposition leader and world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko brokered the truce after talks with radical protesters and armoured security forces on the frontline of the clashes, saying the ceasefire should hold while he conducts talks with President Viktor Yanukovych. AFP PHOTO/GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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 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)
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 man with a stick walks as protesters shielding themselves behind a burned vehicle clashing 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)
A protester attacks police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Police in Ukraineís 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)
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)
Tensions remain high in Ukraine, after scores of people were injured in Sunday's mass protests. While battling to reassert his authority, President Viktor Yanukovich addressed the people of Ukraine and called for a compromise with the opposition.
A medic for anti-government demonstrators in Kiev, Ukraine says three demonstrators died following overnight clashes with police. The medic says one demonstrator died after falling from a high place during the clashes. (Jan. 22)
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SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule.

Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial, after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and cracked down on protesters. Anger boiled over last week after snipers attacked protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine's post-Soviet history.

The turmoil has turned this strategically located country of 46 million inside out over the past few days, raising fears that it could split apart. The parliament speaker is suddenly nominally in charge of a country whose economy is on the brink of default and whose loyalties are torn between Europe and longtime ruler Russia.

The acting finance minister said Monday that the country needs $35 billion (25.5 billion euros) to finance government needs this year and next and expressed hope that Europe or the United States would help.

Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avakhov, said on his official Facebook page Monday that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the "mass killing of civilians." At least 82 people, primarily protesters, were killed in clashes in Kiev last week.

Avakhov says Yanukovych arrived in Crimea on Sunday, relinquished his official security detail and then drove off to an unknown location, turning off all forms of communication. "Yanukovych has disappeared," he said.

Earlier, after signing an agreement Friday with the opposition to end a conflict that had turned deadly, Yanukovych had fled the capital of Kiev for eastern Ukraine. Avakhov said he tried to fly out of Donetsk but was stopped, then went to Crimea.

Ukraine's Ousted President Wanted For Mass Murder

Tensions have been mounting in Crimea, where pro-Russian protesters raised a Russian flag on a city hall in one town and scuffled with police. Russia maintains a big naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol that has tangled relations between the countries for two decades.

The tensions seem to be driven by Russia, though a representative of the pro-Moscow Russian Unity party played down fears that Crimea could secede, saying that they want to maintain ties with Moscow and a Putin-driven Customs Union but do not want Crimea to break away.

Yanukovych set off a wave of protests by shelving an agreement with the European Union in November and turning toward Russia, and the movement quickly expanded its grievances to corruption, human rights abuses and calls for Yanukovych's resignation.

"We must find Yanukovych and put him on trial," said protester Leonid Shovtak, a 50-year-old farmer from the western Ivano-Frankivsk region who came to Kiev's Independence Square to take part in the three-month protest movement. "All the criminals with him should be in prison."

The speaker of parliament, , Oleksandr Turchinov, assumed the president's powers Sunday, even though a presidential aide told The Associated Press on Sunday that Yanukovych plans to stay in power. Meanwhile, Yanukovych's archrival, Yulia Tymoshenko, blond-braided heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, is back on the political scene after having been freed from prison.

Turchinov said top priorities include saving the economy and "returning to the path of European integration," according to news agencies. The latter phrase is certain to displease Moscow, which wants Ukraine to be part of a customs union that would rival the EU and bolster Russia's influence. Russia promised Ukraine a $15 billion bailout after Yanukovych backed away from the EU deal but then froze disbursements because of political unrest.

The EU is reviving efforts to strike a deal with Ukraine that could involve billions of euros in economic perks. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is visiting Kiev on Monday and Tuesday.

Ukraine's acting Finance Minister Yuri Kolobov said in a statement Monday that Ukraine hopes for an emergency loan within the next two weeks from foreigner partners such as the United States and Poland, and called for an international donors conference to discuss aid to Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said Sunday the U.S. is ready to help Ukraine get aid from the International Monetary Fund.

The protest movement has been in large part a fight for the country's economic future - for better jobs and prosperity.

Ukraine's trading partners are also interested in its large potential consumer market, educated workforce, significant industrial base and good natural resources, in particular rich farmland.

Ukraine has struggled with corruption, bad government and short-sighted reliance on cheap gas from Russia. Political unrest has pushed up the deficit and sent exchange rates bouncing, and may have pushed the economy back into a recession.

Per capita economic output is only around $7,300, even adjusted for the lower cost of living there, compared to $22,200 in Poland and around $51,700 in the United States. Ukraine ranks 137th worldwide, behind El Salvador, Namibia, and Guyana.

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