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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
KYIV, UKRAINE (BosNewsLife)–Ukraine’s parliament has voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych after the leader said he would not step down and described events in Kyiv as a coup. Legislators also agreed to release opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
In a revolt that began in November, Ukrainian legislators made clear the president should step down and voted to hold early presidential elections on May 25.
Yanukovych said barely an hour earlier he would not resign not leave the country.
There was more bad news for the embattled leader, who fled Kiev and was believed to be in the eastern city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border.
Enthuisatic legislators used his absence to vote to free jailed opposition Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment on what critics viewed as trumped up charges of abuse of power.
Soon after, she was seen leaving prison. Her daughter Yevgenia Tymoshenko was overjoyed with the vote.
She said she is “very grateful to all who have been at Kiev’s Independence Square fighting for freedom, for Ukraine and for political prisoners, including my mom.”
Yevgenia Tymoshenko added that she is “thankful to all the heroes of Ukraine, but that she is also hurting as the changes that are happening now had to be paid for with the blood of heroes. She says: “We’re mourning them, now and forever.”
The young woman explained that “important changes are happening for the country and for the team that campaigned” for her mother’s freedom adding that “today is a big day, a victorious day.”
Parliamentarians also elected Tymoshenko ally Oleksander Turchynov as the new parliamentary speaker after the previous one resigned.
Outside parliament, protesters have walked unchallenged into presidential offices and residential compounds expressing anger that Yanukovich used security forces, including snipers, to kill scores of often young protesters.
Demonstrators had also expressed outrage that Yanukovich refused to sign an association agreement with the EU, opting instead for closer ties with Russia.
Tensions are also running high between the pro-EU Western and more pro-Russian eastern parts of the country.
Amid the turbulence, European officials have expressed concern that Russia may intervene in the conflict, after Moscow reportedly refused to sign the EU-backed peace deal agreed Friday on early elections.
Ukraine is at the center of what critics view as a geopolitical battle between the West and its former Soviet-master Russia.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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