Ukrainian Maidan coup leaders must testify before court – ousted President Yanukovich

Former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, is seen here during a press scrum in Rostov Region Court where he testifies on February 2014 unrest in Kiev. The Rostov Region Court arranged a video link for Kiev's Svyatoshinsky Court to interrogate Mr. Yanukovych.© Sergey Pivovarov
The leaders of the EuroMaidan coup, which saw dozens killed in 2014, must testify in court, ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich told the press after testifying before Ukraine’s prosecutors via a video link.

“The Maidan leaders should testify in court and it would be right to make sure that the victims’ families hear them,” Yanukovich told reporters in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Monday.

Earlier on Monday, he was questioned in a video conference by Kiev’s Svyatoshino district Court as a witness for defense over the 2014 events in Kiev. The exiled politician said that he was glad that the trial allowed him to share his views on the issue and was heard in Ukraine as “before that, I didn’t have a chance to speak out.”

“The discussion in court, involving relatives’ victims, lawyers, the prosecutor, the judges, is important in terms of Ukraine’s future and choosing the path that the country takes,” Yanukovich said.

Ukraine remains split and the situation continues to deteriorate under the current authorities, he added.

“My goal today was to find the right way to establish the truth in the resonant events [Maidan killings],” he said, adding that Ukraine must be returned to the legal field and become a state that doesn’t violate human rights.

During his questioning by the Ukrainian court, which lasted six hours, Yanukovich stressed that the violence in central Kiev on February 18-23, 2014 was provoked by Maidan protest leaders, including Ukraine’s current Prosecutor-General, Yury Lutsenko.

"Lutsenko and other leaders of Maidan called for the armed standoff and taking over the presidential residence," he recalled.

The bloodshed in Kiev “was to the advantage of the Maidan leaders, who eventually seized power by force," Yanukovich said.

He stressed that the violent suppression of the protesters in the Ukrainian capital was never even considered by him or any of his associates.

The armed confrontation disrupted the implementation of the deal, earlier signed between the authorities and the opposition, which "offered a peaceful solution to the situation," the politician said.

"I would like to address the families of those killed. I want to apologize to you so that you see that I did my best to prevent that tragedy," Yanukovich said.

The questioning concluded with Yanukovich saying that he had not disclaimed the presidential powers and “as for the rest, it's up to the Ukrainian people to decide."

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Protests in Kiev's central Maidan Square began in late 2013 when the Ukrainian authorities put off signing an association agreement with the EU. This move sparked mass riots, known as Maidan or EuroMaidan, which saw Yanukovich ousted from the presidency and flee to Russia. The clashes between armed protestors and Berkut riot police left dozens of people dead, with many law enforcement representatives among the victims.

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The new Kiev authorities accused the Berkut forces of using firearms against the protesters, but there were reports of unidentified snipers who targeted people on both sides.  In February 2016, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office announced that it had established all those responsible for the Maidan events. Several arrests were made, with 20 Berkut officers also put on the wanted list.