Viktor Yanukovych-Russia: Ukraine's ousted and fugitive president said to be given refuge in Russia.

Ukraine's Fugitive President Said to Find Shelter in Russia

Ukraine's Fugitive President Said to Find Shelter in Russia

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Feb. 27 2014 10:41 AM

Ukraine's Fugitive President Said to Find Shelter in Russia

People wander near a lake around President Viktor Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya estate, which was abandoned by security, on February 26, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ukraine's fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, has been on the run for nearly a week since he fled Kiev after signing an accord with opposition leaders this past Friday. The interim government, which wants him to stand trial for the mass killing of dozen of anti-government protesters, had chased him to eastern Ukraine, a region that significantly more pro-Russia then the rest of the Eastern European nation, but the trail went cold there. It appears as though we know now why, via the Associated Press:

A respected Russian news organization reported that President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven out of Kiev by a three-month protest movement, was staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow. "I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists," Yanukovych said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday. He said he still considers himself president and sees the new Ukrainian authorities as illegitimate.
Shortly after, the same three Russian news agencies quoted an unnamed Russian official saying that Yanukovych's request for protection "was satisfied on the territory of Russia." ... The RBK report was impossible to confirm, but security at the Ukraina Hotel was unusually heavy late Wednesday, with police watching from parked vehicles outside and guards posted throughout the lobby. Some of Yanukovych's allies, also reported to have been at the hotel, may have still been there.

Today's news comes amid a string of troubling (and Russian-themed) signs for the situation in Ukraine. On Thursday, Moscow launched a massive military exercise along its border with Ukraine that involved 150,000 troops and more than a few fighter jets, a not-so-subtle show of force by Putin's government. Adding to the tension, a group of gunmen said to be pro-Russian stormed seized the regional government administration building and parliament in Ukraine's southern Crimea region on Thursday.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.