The Ukrainian parliament on February 22 2014 declared President Viktor Yanukovych constitutionally unable to carry out his duties on Saturday and set an early election for May 25.
Deputies in the assembly stood, applauded and sang the national anthem.
Embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says he will not resign or leave Ukraine, and has called the violent uprising against him an example of a “coup.”
The Russian news agency Interfax reported Yanukovych made the remarks in an interview Saturday with a Ukrainian television station. Interfax also quoted him as saying all decisions made by Ukraine’s parliament Saturday were illegal.
The report did not specify Yanukovych’s whereabouts, but a dateline on the television interview read Kharkiv, an eastern Ukrainian city.
Ukraine’s opposition said Saturday Yanukovych had left the capital, Kyiv. Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko urged the president to resign so early elections can be held no later than May.
Parliament voted Saturday to immediately free jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister. She is serving time in a prison hospital for abuse of power. Parliament also elected a new speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, a longtime ally of Tymoshenko.
Turchynov was elected soon after pro-government speaker Volodymyr Rybak submitted his resignation Saturday, citing ill health.
Along with early elections, the deal signed Friday would replace Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko, who the opposition blames for the deaths of protesters. It amends the criminal code to allow for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.
Ukraine is split between those in the east who favor ties with Russia, and those in the west who lean toward the European Union.