* Urges Russia's Putin to take firm line with new Ukraine
* Blames "nationalists, pro-fascists" in Kiev for crisis
* Says West "indulged" protesters
* Fled because he feared for his life
By Denis Pinchuk
ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia, Feb 28 Viktor Yanukovich
urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a bolder line
with Ukraine's new rulers who had ousted him, telling him on
Friday that Russia could not remain indifferent to what had
happened in the former Soviet republic.
Appearing in southern Russia where he has taken refuge since
fleeing Ukraine on Feb. 21, Yanukovich said: "I think that
Russia should act and is obliged to act.
"Knowing Vladimir Putin's personality, I am surprised that
he is still saying nothing. Russia cannot be indifferent, cannot
be a bystander watching the fate of as close a partner as
Ukraine," the 63-year-old Yanukovich said.
"Russia must use all means at its disposal to end the chaos
and terror gripping Ukraine," he said, clearly encouraging the
Kremlin leader to take a firm tack with the new pro-Europe
Yanukovich spoke in the southern Russian city of
Rostov-on-Don, about 200 km (125 miles) from the Ukrainian
border, as Ukraine's new rulers grappled with the takeover by
pro-Russia armed groups of airports and other strategic points
on the Crimean peninsula.
Yanukovich, who fell to a popular uprising against his rule
after he pulled out of a trade deal with the European Union,
said he would not give up the fight for the country's future.
At a news conference in Rostov, he railed against
"nationalist, pro-fascist gangsters" who had forced him out of
power and he blamed Western governments for "indulging"
protesters seeking his overthrow.
Yanukovich said lawlessness and chaos had followed an
agreement he signed with his opponents last Friday, which was
brokered by the European Union and had been intended to end
three months of crisis.
The agreement would have allowed him to stay in power until
early elections in December. But protesters, angered by about
100 deaths in clashes with police, shouted down the agreement on
Kiev's Independence Square and he fled for his life.
Yanukovich, dressed in a suit and tie, maintained he had
been the victim of a coup and denied he had ordered police to
shoot at protesters before he was forced out of power.
He implied that responsibility for the bloodshed in Kiev lay
with the demonstrators, praising the Berkut riot police -
despised in Kiev and since disbanded by Ukraine's new rulers -
for their "courage" in withstanding petrol bomb attacks by
"I want to ask for forgiveness for all those who are
suffering and all those who suffered ... if I was in Ukraine I
would bow before everyone," he said.
FEARED FOR HIS LIFE
Saying he was still the legally elected president,
Yanukovich said he had fled Ukraine only because he feared for
his life and that of his family. He was ready to return to
Ukraine - but only when his safety was guaranteed, he said.
He called on Ukrainians to reject the new leadership which
appointed a new prime minister and cabinet on Thursday and have
set a May 25 date for a presidential election.
He also rejected claims that he had operated crooked deals
which had drained state coffers saying: "I have never held any
foreign bank accounts. All I had was declared. It's empty
Referring to unrest in Crimea and the seizure there of
airports and other strategic points by pro-Russia armed groups,
Yanukovich said this was a perfectly "natural reaction to the
action of bandits" in Kiev.
But he was adamant that the region, where ethnic Russians
are in a majority, should remain part of Ukraine though enjoying
Despite encouraging Putin to take a bold line, Yanukovich
said he would not ask Russia for military support in dealing
with the crisis where he said power had been stolen by "a bunch
He said he had spoken by telephone with Putin after arriving
in Russia with the help of "patriotic officers". They had agreed
to meet at some point in the future.
Accusing the West of pursuing "irresponsible" policies by
patronising the "Maidan" - the name given to the uprising
against his - he said he had trusted in the "decency" of Western
ministers when he had signed an agreement in which he made many
compromises to end the crisis.
He added he would not take part in the May presidential
election fixed by Ukraine's new parliament, declaring it