Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich takes part in a news conference in the south Russian city of Rostov-on-Don February 28, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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Ukraine's ousted president Viktor Yanukovych insisted on Friday that he had not been overthrown as he defiantly resurfaced in Russia from a week in hiding and savaged the new pro-Western powers in Kiev.Yanukovych -- sitting confident in a pressed suit with a dark blue tie in front of three Ukrainian flags -- appeared before a swarm of reporters in the southwestern Russian city of Rostov-On-Don, less than two hours' drive from the border with Ukraine.Yanukovych also apologised to the Ukrainian people and said he would return once his safety could be guaranteed.Ukraine's bloodiest crisis since its 1991 independence erupted in November when Yanukovych made the shock decision to ditch an EU trade pact in favour of closer ties with old master Russia.The spiralling tensions in a nation torn between the West and Russia took a severe new turn on Friday when Ukraine's new leaders accused Russian soldiers and local pro-Kremlin militia of staging raids on Crimea's main airport and another base on the southwest of the peninsula where pro-Moscow sentiment runs high. AFP reporters also saw soldiers with machine guns and dressed in green military fatigues that carried no national identification blocking the main road leading to Ukraine's Belbek military air base near the city of Sevastopol -- home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet.In his address to reporters, which was broadcast live on Russian television and last for over an hour, Yanukovych said the Crimea tensions were a "natural reaction" to the "bandit-like" takeover of power but that the region must remain part of Ukraine.
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