Ukraine’s new authorities want deposed President Victor Yanukovych to be tried by the International Criminal Court even as the whereabouts of the fugitive leader remain unknown.
The Ukrainian Parliament overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to ask the Hague-based court to try Mr. Yanukovych and for “mass murder” of civilians during violent anti-government protests which took the lives of more than 80 people.
Mr. Yanukovych, put on the wanted list on Monday, fled Kiev after signing a Europe-brokered peace deal with the opposition last week and was last spotted in Crimea, near the Russian naval base in Sevastopol.
Sevastopol has emerged as the focal point of defiance against the power takeover in Kiev. On Tuesday a thousand-strong crowd in Crimea’s biggest city prevented an attempt to arrest Alexei Chaly, a Russian businessman chosen Mayor at a rally two days earlier.
The crowd chanted “Russia! Russia” and sang with Mr. Chaly the Soviet-era song “Sevastopol, the city of Russian glory.”
The Kiev-appointed Mayor tendered his resignation and the local police chief and prosecutor promised not to take any steps “against the will of the people.”
In Moscow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against witchhunt over plans by Ukrainian “radicals” to mount a “crusade” against dissident provinces.
Mr. Lavrov accused Ukraine’s new leaders of violating their pact with Mr. Yanukovych, which “was supposed to reconcile all Ukrainians, to ensure that not a single Ukrainian in any part of the country felt his rights breached.”
Speaking at a joint press conference with Mr. Lavrov on Tuesday, visiting Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn admitted that the decision of the new Ukrainian authorities to repeal a law giving regional rights to the Russian language was a “wrong” move.
Mr. Lavrov said he and his Luxembourg counterpart shared “profound concerns” over developments in Ukraine that “are not always constructive.”
Russia has recalled its ambassador from Ukraine “for consultations.” Russia’s Prime Minister Dmity Medvedev said the move was motivated by concerns about the “threat to the lives and health of Russian citizens” in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchinov said on Tuesday that the country faced “serious threat of separatism.” He discussed the issue with newly appointed heads of security agencies and dispatched the Armed Forces Chief of Staff to Sevastopol to stop Crimea’s revolt against Kiev.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s victorious opposition leaders have failed to meet their own deadline for forming a new government by Tuesday, giving themselves two more days to divide the portfolios.
Protesters, who still camped out on Maidan Square in Kiev, demanded in a statement that “oligarchs” and members of Mr. Yanukovych’s government should not be included in the new cabinet.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said the West would help Ukraine avoid looming bankruptcy provided the new authorities form an “inclusive” government.