Ukraine has issued an arrest warrant for fugitive ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, the interior minister says.
Acting interior minister Arsen Avakhov announced the warrant in a Facebook
In his statement Avakov said an "official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened", and that Yanukovych and others "have been declared wanted".
The statement said Yanukovych was last seen in Balaklava on the Crimean peninsula on Sunday. But after dismissing most of his security detail, he had left by car for an unknown destination, accompanied by an aide.
The statement did not name the other figures covered by the warrant.
Avakov and Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, appointed by parliament to oversee security matters, have travelled to Crimea to defuse tensions, according to media reports.
The peninsula is an autonomous region, where the majority of the population is ethnically Russian. Crimea, along with some pro-Russian areas in the east, have seen protests against the overthrow of Yanukovych, sparking fears the country could be broken apart by separatism movements.
Avakov said it was "very important not to provoke anybody with excessive emotions", and that there should be "no repetition of the picture of confrontation that we saw in Kiev when the authorities went against the people".
"I think that through peaceful dialogue we can return everything to a state of calm," the 5 Kanal TV station quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton travels Monday to Ukraine where she is due to meet with new interim leaders who want their country to forge closer ties with the EU.
Ashton\’s office says her trip to Kyiv will include discussing ways the EU can help the political and economic stabilization of Ukraine.
There is split support in the country between those who want Ukraine to favor relations with Europe and those who want closer ties with Russia. Ousted president Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the EU in November, setting off protests that led to him being kicked out of office.
Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov became Ukraine\’s interim president Sunday. He highlighted the demonstrations in Kyiv\’s Independence Square and stressed the plan to embrace the EU in an address Sunday night.
"Our priority is returning to the path of European integration where the fight for Maidan began. We have to return to a family of European countries and to understand the importance of relations with the Russian Federation and be ready to build relations on new and fair partnership of good neighborly relations."
He has promised a new government by Tuesday, and lawmakers have called for new elections on May 25.
Also Monday, the acting finance minister Yuri Kolobov said Ukraine will need $35 billion in foreign aid to cover its bills during the next two years. He called for an international donor conference and appealed for urgent aid, saying some of the money needs to come within two weeks.
Russia is a strong backer of the ousted president, and on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Kyiv for consultations on what it says is the "deteriorating situation in Ukraine." A Russian Foreign Ministry statement cited a need for "a comprehensive analysis" of developments in Kyiv.
The United States and Britain have warned Russia not to send forces into Ukraine. U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Russian military intervention would be a "grave mistake."
Yanukovych fled Kyiv on Saturday for his support base in eastern Ukraine.
Opposition party leader Vitali Klitschko said Sunday the ousted leader should take full responsibility for the chaos in Kyiv that has resulted in the deaths of about 100 anti-government protesters in the past two weeks.
Yanukovych\’s party issued a statement blaming him for the surge of deadly violence that wracked the capital in recent weeks.
Ukrainian protesters took control of Yanukovych\’s offices in Kyiv on Saturday. Others let themselves onto the grounds of the president\’s lavish but secret estate outside Kyiv, which includes a private zoo, and toured his house. Some say they are stunned that one person could have so much while others in Ukraine have nothing.
Source: VOA and agencies