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Ukraine’s leader flees the capital; elections called

Opposition leader and ex-prime minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko,  just freed from a prison hospital, addressed protesters.
Opposition leader and ex-prime minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko, just freed from a prison hospital, addressed protesters.Credit: YANNIS BEHRAKIS/reuters

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KIEV — Abandoned by his own guards and reviled across the Ukrainian capital but still determined to recover his shredded authority, President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev on Saturday to denounce what he called a violent coup.

Yanukovych’s official residence, his vast, colonnaded office complex, and other once- impregnable centers of power fell without a fight to throngs of joyous citizens stunned by their triumph.

As Yanukovych’s nemesis, former Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko, was released from a penitentiary hospital, Parliament found the president unable to fulfill his duties and exercised its constitutional powers to set an election for May 25 to select his replacement. Hours after her release, Tymoshenko appeared before an ecstatic throng of about 50,000 supporters at the protest encampment in Kiev.

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