In an address televised before Ukraine’s parliament vote to impeach him, Viktor Yanukovych described events in Kiev as a “coup”.
Viktor Yanukovych insisted he was the “lawfully elected president” and compared the actions of the opposition to the rise to power of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.
In his address Viktor Yanukovych also called a raft of votes in Ukraine’s parliament on Friday “illegitimate”, claiming that lawmakers had been “beaten, pelted with stones and intimidated”.
However, he did admit that that some had left his Party of the Regions, calling them “traitors”.
President Viktor Yanukovych also said his ally, parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Rybak, was forced to resign because he had been physically beaten.
He added that both Volodymyr Rybak’s car and his own had been fired at.
Volodymyr Rybak resigned on Saturday morning citing ill health and was replaced by Oleksandr Turchynov, a Yulia Tymoshenko ally.
Another Yulia Tymoshenko ally, Arsen Avakov, was appointed interim interior minister, replacing Vitaly Zakharchenko, who was sacked on Friday after being blamed for the deaths of civilians in last week’s crackdown on protests.
Before Saturday’s vote to oust Viktor Yanukovych, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Ukrainian opposition of being led by “armed extremists and pogromists” whose actions were a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty and constitutional order.
Also before the vote, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski – one of three EU ministers that mediated between the two sides this week – tweeted that there had been “no coup in Kiev”.
Radoslaw Sikorski, along with the German and French foreign ministers, presided over talks that led to a pact on Friday between Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders which now seems to have been overtaken by events.
The deal followed several days of violence in which dozens of people died in a police crackdown on months of protest. It called for the restoration of the 2004 constitution and the formation of a national unity government.
The agreement failed to end the protests overnight with huge crowds remaining in the Maidan calling for Viktor Yanukovych’s resignation.