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Ousted ex-leader Yanukovych ‘respects’ Ukraine vote

Ukraine’s ousted ex-president Viktor Yanukovych said Monday he respected the result of Sunday’s presidential polls, in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

“It doesn’t matter which region it was and what percentage of the population came to vote, whatever choice you made — I respect that choice, made in the most difficult time for our Motherland,” Yanukovych said in the statement released in southern Russia where he is in exile, RIA Novosti reported.

At the same time Yanukovych cast doubt on the vote’s legitimacy, saying it was necessary for those in the southern and eastern regions to take part, after the election was blocked in pro-Russian separatist regions.

“For the legitimacy of the election and the legitimacy of the president himself, the participation of the south and east of our country is necessary,” he said.

He condemned authorities in Kiev who took control after his ouster in February, saying that “many voters in these regions were insulted and humiliated by the actions of the illegitimate authorities who came to power as the result of an armed coup.”

The former president, elected in 2010, accused authorities in Kiev of “destroying their own people using grenade launchers, mortar launchers, artillery, armoured personnel carriers and infantry combat vehicles, tanks and military helicopters with missile systems”.

“This is madness and it is going unpunished,” Yanukovych said.

Yanukovych was ousted after he made a last-minute decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union that prompted protests in Kiev.

He fled Ukraine after nearly 100 died in three days of violent clashes in February.

He reappeared in March in southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, where he said he was staying with friends.