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Kiev: Protestors Storm Parliament; Yanukovych Cries 'Coup'

Tensions boil over in Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovych flees, denies rumors of stepping down.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/22/2014, 7:45 PM / Last Update: 2/22/2014, 9:24 PM

Ukraine's political situation is dissolving into controlled chaos Saturday night, as thousands of protestors storm the Presidential palace, according to the Washington Post. 

Meanwhile, local reports note that government offices across Ukraine had shut down and that workers at the public prosecutor’s office were destroying documents. Protestors across Ukraine have also taken down statues of Vladimir Lenin in their cities as a symbol of celebration and hope, according to AFP.

Saturday, parliament voted for President Viktor Yanukovych's resignation, in a unanimous vote of 328 to zero. The move sparked celebrations by protestors and opposition leaders, as media headlines blared that Ukraine's unrest might finally be coming to a close. 

Hours later, however, Yanukovych has appeared on UBR television refusing to step down, according to BBC News

"I am completely sure that this is an example that our country and the whole world saw, an example of a coup d'etat," he stated on a live broadcast. "I have spared no effort to prevent the bloodshed. We adopted two amnesty laws. We took every step needed to stabilize the political situation in the country. But what happened, happened."

"I received signals this whole time about people being chased. I am trying to defend the people who are being chased by bandits, chased in their homes, offices, on the roads," he continued. "I am being intimidated all the time with ultimatums. I have no intention to leave the country and go anywhere. I am not going to resign. I am a lawfully elected president. I have been given guarantees by all international mediators that I have worked with that they guarantee my safety. I will see how they will perform this role."

"What is happening now is to a great extent is vandalism, banditry and a coup d'etat," he declared. "This is my assessment. I am deeply convinced that this is what this is."

"I remain on Ukrainian territory,” he said. “I will appeal to all the international observers, to all the mediators who have been involved in this political conflict to stop the bandits — they are not opposition, they are bandits.”

Yanukovych also laid out a plan of action, according to BBC, which includes holding meetings with close advisors, surveying the populace for their opinions on what happens as he travels through Ukraine, and appealing to the international community for help. 

He noted that attempts have been made on his life and that at least one parliament member has been beaten. 

Regarding the current takeover, the ousted President called the opposition storming Kiev a "coup" and made comparisons to the Nazi takeover of pre-war Germany. 

"We see the repeat of the Nazi events, when in the 1930s in Germany and Austria the Nazis came to power," he stated. "This is a repeat of that. They banned parties. The same is happening now. They are banning the Communist Party of Ukraine, the Party of Regions, putting labels on it, chasing, beating people, burning houses, offices." 

Yanukovych fled Kiev in light of the new developments, according to CNN, and it is still unclear where he is as the drama unfolds. Reports indicate that he has headed for the Russian-speaking countryside to Ukraine's Northeast, which is a boon of cultural and political support for the ousted president. 

According to CNN, an interim government has been formed. Despite Yanukovych's claims of political repression, all parties are said to be represented in the interim government, as parliament attempts to stabilize Ukraine as quickly as possible. 

Opposition leader, former presidential candidate, and political prisoner Yulia Tymoshenko is speaking at Independence Square shortly, according to AFP, and has ceremonially laid flowers at the spot where several protesters died over the past several days. 

Analysts have speculated that Tymoshenko may be the next President of Ukraine, as she became a figurehead for the struggles of the Opposition after she was imprisoned over the weekend. 

More to follow as developments surface.