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Saturday, February 22 2014, 04:39 PM MST
Ukrainian Protesters Take Over Capital; President Calls it a Coup
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Protesters have taken control of Ukraine's capital, seizing the office of President Viktor Yanukovych as parliament voted to remove him and hold new elections.

Parliament also arranged the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a Yanukovych rival, who promised to run for president.

Yanukovych is refusing to recognize any of the lawmakers' decisions as valid. He described the events as a coup and insisted he would not step down.

He has left Kiev for his support base in the country's Russian-speaking east.

The events are raising fears that the country could split in two — a Europe-leaning west and a Russian-leaning east and south.

Meanwhile, Russia is accusing Ukraine's opposition of failing to fulfill its side of a peace deal intended to end the nation's political crisis.

Russia's foreign minister says the opposition "keeps making new demands under the influence of armed extremists and rioters." Sergey Lavrovhas been calling Western leaders, including Secretary of State John Kerry, urging them to intervene.

Clashes between protesters and security forces this week have left scores dead.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Ukrainian Protesters Take Over Capital; President Calls it a Coup

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