Ukraine appealed for $35 billion in aid from the West, including the European Union, even as the country's interior ministry issued an arrest warrant against President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of "mass murder," and invited further criticism from one-time benefactor Russia.
Arsen Avakov, the acting interior minister and an MP of the opposition party, Fatherland, reportedly said Monday that Yanukovych is responsible for the “mass murder of peaceful citizens." After three months of protests, which exploded into violence last week, killing at least 100, Yanukovych fled from Kiev on Saturday, allowing control to pass into the hands of the opposition party and protesters.
“A criminal case has been launched over the mass murder of peaceful civilians. Yanukovych and a number of other officials have been put on a wanted list,” Avakov reportedly said in a statement on social networking site Facebook, according to Agence France-Presse, or AFP.
Russia, which influenced Yanukovych's decision to abandon a trade agreement with the EU, which led to the protests in November, threatened to increase duties on imported goods if the West's aid came through, and has frozen all but $3 billion of a promised $15 billion bailout package.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the protests a "mutiny" and criticized an elections that has been scheduled for May. According to AFP, Russia's finance minister Anton Siluanov warned Ukraine about reversing Yanukovych's decision of refusing to sign the EU partnership pact.
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"We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens. There are big doubts about the legitimacy of a whole series of organs of power that are now functioning there," local media quoted Medvedev as saying, according to BBC.
Ukraine's interim president, Olexander Turchynov, reportedly expressed a desire to establish a good relationship with Russia and begin on “equal and good-neighborly footing that recognizes and takes into account Ukraine's European choice."
Although protests have so far been limited to the pro-Russian parts of Ukraine, it is feared that the country may be split into two by separatist movements.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said: "It's not in the interests of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or the United States to see a country split. It's in nobody's interest to see violence return and the situation escalate," according to BBC.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will visit Kiev on Tuesday to meet with Turchynov and, working with the EU and the IMF, help its new leaders begin the process of economic and political reform.
Burns, who will be accompanied by representatives of the Treasury department and the National Economic Council, "will consult with key Ukrainian leaders, the business community, and civil society on US support for Ukraine's efforts to secure a stable, democratic, inclusive, prosperous future," according to a State Department release.