Interpol has put ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on the international wanted list on Ukrainian charges of embezzlement and financial wrong-doing, according to a notice on the international police organisation’s website on Monday.
Ukrainian authorities said Interpol’s publication of a so-called red notice against the 64-year-old Yanukovich, who has been living in Russia since being ousted by street protests almost a year ago, empowered any police force to hand him over to Ukraine if he was detained.
“Today, several months after Ukraine sent a request to Interpol in March 2014 with the arguments and explanations prepared by the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Security Service of Ukraine, an Interpolspecial commission has come to a decision,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page.
Yanukovich fled across the border into Russia in February last year after months of street protests in Kiev against his decision to back away from a deal that would take Ukraine towards integration with Europe and tighten economic ties with Russia, Ukraine’s old Soviet master.
The pro-western authorities who took over have accused him and a coterie of relatives and close allies known as The Family, of accumulating huge wealth by robbing state coffers and plundering national assets through corrupt deals.
Yanukovich has denied that he or members of his family were involved in corruption schemes.
After he fled, Russia said Yanukovich had been the victim of a “fascist” coup and went on to annex Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
In an intensifying confrontation with Kiev’s pro-Western leadership, it has supported separatists in Ukraine’s industrialised east in a conflict in which more than 4,700 people have been killed, though Moscow denies its forces have been involved in fighting.