In his first interview since fleeing to Russia, Ukraine’s ousted president said on Wednesday that he was “wrong” to have invited Russian troops into Crimea and vowed to try to persuade Russia to return the coveted Black Sea peninsula.
Defensive and at times teary-eyed, Viktor Yanukovych told The Associated Press and Russia’s state NTV television that he still hopes to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin to get the annexed region back.
“Crimea is a tragedy, a major tragedy,” the 63-year-old Yanukovych said, insisting that Russia’s takeover of Crimea wouldn’t have happened if he had stayed in power. He fled Ukraine in February after three months of protests focused on corruption and on his decision to seek closer ties to Russia instead of the European Union.
Mr Yanukovych denied the allegations of corruption, saying he built his palatial residence outside of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, with his own money. He also denied responsibility for the sniper deaths of about 80 protesters in Kiev in February, for which he has been charged by Ukraine’s interim government. . .