Russia denounced Ukraine’s interim leaders as dictators on Monday and blasted the western governments that it said helped bring them to power, in a sign that the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovich is triggering a regional stand-off.
The Russian foreign ministry claimed the new leadership was infringing on the human rights of Russians and other minorities in Ukraine. “This is headed towards the suppression of dissent in several regions of Ukraine by dictatorial and sometimes almost terrorist means,” the ministry said in a statement.
Dmitry Medvedev, prime minister, said Moscow’s bailout for Kiev would remain on hold until a “normal, legitimate government” was in place.
“If you consider people who plough Kiev in black masks and with Kalashnikovs a government, then we will have difficulty working with such a government,” he said.
Russia’s furious statements came as the new Ukrainian authorities intensified their hunt for ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, who has not been seen since Friday, and tensions rose in Crimea, the Russia-friendly peninsula on the Black Sea.
Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove Mr Yanukovich on Saturday after a crackdown on three months of anti-government protests left more than 70 dead.