From Moscow, exiled ex-PM launches committee to 'save' Ukraine
An exiled former top ally of ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych on Monday launched a shadowy committee to "save" the war-torn country, pledging to bring down the current pro-Western government.
Ex-prime minister Mykola Azarov, wanted for corruption by Kiev after fleeing during last year's protests that toppled Yanukovych, called for public demonstrations and early elections in Ukraine at a press conference in a Moscow hotel.
Widely seen as discredited in his homeland, Azarov struggled to lay out a concrete plan for how the Committee for the Salvation of Ukraine -- made up of exiled former ruling party lawmakers -- would have an impact from abroad.
"Our main task is the total overhaul of the authorities," Azarov said in televised comments to Russian reporters.
Azarov said that deposed former leader Yanukovych -- who also fled to Russia -- is not connected with the group.
Kiev and the West accuse Russia of backing separatist rebels fighting a bloody insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
Russia denies allegations that it is meddling in the affairs of its ex-Soviet neighbour, and a Kremlin spokesman said Moscow was not behind the new committee.
"The Kremlin clearly does not have any links to this initiative. It is quite new," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.
"Obviously there cannot have been and can't be any talk of having to agree an initiative with any official authorities here in Russia."
More than 6,800 people have died and at least another 1.4 million have been left homeless in a revolt in eastern Ukraine, in the wake of the February 2014 popular uprising in Kiev and Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.
© 2015 AFP