WH dodges on legitimate leader of Ukraine

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday sidestepped questions about whom the United States recognized as the leader of Ukraine on Monday, as opposition leaders issued an arrest warrant for President Viktor Yanukovych.

{mosads}Carney said Yanukovych’s actions had “undermined his legitimacy,” and said Yanukovych, who has fled Kiev, was “not actively leading his country.” Carney also said that Yanukovych’s “whereabouts are not known to us in a confirmable way.”

Carney would only say that the White House encouraged the Ukrainian parliament “to take actions that help continue a path toward deescalation and violence.

He also said that the U.S. recognized the election of Oleksandr Turchinov, a longtime ally of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, as speaker of parliament. Turchinov has been fulfilling some of the presidential duties in Yanukovych’s absence.

Asked if the United States backed an effort to try Yanukovych for the “mass killings” of civilians, Carney said it was an issue that should be “up to the Ukrainian people.”

“These aren’t positions for us to take,” Carney said. “We are for the deescalation of violence.”

Yanukovych fled the capital and was last seen publicly when he delivered a televised speech from Khariv, a city near the border with Russia. According to CNN, Yanukovych attempted to board a charter flight in the eastern city of Donetsk, but was turned away for not having the proper documentation.

“I don’t plan to leave the country. I don’t plan to resign. I am the legitimate president,” Yanukovych said in the interview on Saturday. 

Tags Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych

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