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Ukrainian interim leader wants European choice

Monday, Feb 24, 2014 - 01:52

Feb. 24 - Ukraine's new interim President Oleksander Turchinov says the country will focus on closer integration with Europe. Sarah Toms reports.

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's rejection of a trade pact with the EU triggered these protests that toppled him. Now the country's acting President Oleksander Turchinov seeks closer ties with Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) ACTING UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT OLEKSANDER TURCHINOV SAYING: " Another priority is returning to the European integration course, the fight for which Maidan started with. We must return to family of European countries. We also understand the importance of our relations with Russia. We are ready for dialogue with Russia's leadership and we are ready to build relations with this country on a just basis of equal rights and good neighbourliness." Turchinov was appointed after Yanukovich was dismissed. Former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili joined the thousands of opposition supporters in Kiev's Independence Square, calling Yanukovich's ouster a victory over Russia. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER GEORGIAN PRESIDENT, MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, SAYING: "I think Eurasian empire has just vanished, it has just got burned in the fires of Maidan. And I think nobody should revive its ashes. I think it's really what happened here, as I said today the end of Russian empire really started in these very events in Kiev." It's not known where Yanukovich is but this CCTV video footage appears to show him leaving his residence in a helicopter. In his absence, Ukrainians were free to explore his opulent Blue Mountain retreat, which features a lake and zoo with bears, pheasant and wild boars. Residents were furious to see the extravagance on show. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UNNAMED VISITOR SAYING: "Can I pass on my wishes to the president? I wish him dead! That is the same single wish for the whole of the Ukrainian" Local reports say millions of dollars were spent to repair and extend the property, which Yanukovich visited for only a few days a year.

Ukrainian interim leader wants European choice

Monday, Feb 24, 2014 - 01:52

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