Ukraine’s former pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych, whose ouster early last year led to the insurgency raging in east Ukraine, said in a Russian interview excerpt released Saturday: “I’ll be back.”
Russia’s Channel One published the excerpt as both Ukraine and Russia marked — very differently — the one-year anniversary of the pro-Western uprising in Kiev that sent Yanukovych fleeing to exile in Russia.
“I’ll be back and will do everything in my power to make life easier in Ukraine,” Yanukovych promised in the interview, which will be broadcast in full on Monday.
He claimed that “my heart ached” at seeing the conflict Ukraine has slipped into, with “entire regions destroyed”.
Protesters who chased out Yanukovych discovered the lavish life he had been living — including a sumptuous palace with a private zoo, a replica pirate ship and pure gold fittings — while the country was mired in debt.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted he helped Yanukovych flee. Kiev has claimed Putin issued a secret decree granting Yanukovych Russian citizenship.