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Ukraine issues arrest warrant for ex-leader, Yanukovych

Ukraine has issued a warrant for the arrest of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, the interim interior minister has announced.

Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post a criminal case had been opened against Yanukovych and other officials over “mass murder of peaceful citizens”.

Lawmakers voted to remove Yanukovych on Saturday after months of protest sparked by his rejection of an EU deal.

A crackdown on the protests last week left dozens dead.

Avakov said Yanukovych was seen in Balaklava on the Crimean peninsula on Sunday, but that he had left by car for an unknown destination, accompanied by an aide.

Before leaving Balaklava he had relieved his security detail of their duties, said the statement.

Avakov – an key opposition figure – was appointed interim interior minister on Saturday, in a day of fast-paced events in parliament.

He replaced Vitaly Zakharchenko, who was sacked the day before after being blamed for the deaths of civilians in the crackdown on protesters.

The protests first began in late November when Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia.

Yanukovych insisted on Saturday that he was still Ukraine’s legitimate leader, but he had become increasingly isolated and parliament voted to impeach him and hold presidential elections in May.

Meanwhile, the new interim finance minister, Yuriy Kolobov, has said Ukraine needs around $35bn (£21bn) in urgent foreign aid and asked for an international donors’ conference to be held.

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