Ukraine’s richest man and a former member of parliament in Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, said in emailed comments: “The last time I spoke with Viktor Yanukovich was in Donetsk on 22 February. Given the situation in the country, I was persuading him to resign,” Akhmetov said.
The eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the country’s industrial heartland and home to around 1 million people, is where the two men rose from their meager beginnings to political and business titans. Both made their money in the coal industry in the turbulent, violent post-Soviet 1990s.
Yanukovych bolted following the bloodiest week in Ukraine’s independent history, a killing spree he and other former top officials are accused of orchestrating. Nearly 100 people were killed – many by sniper fire – during deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and police in central Kyiv on Feb. 18-20, pushing the death toll in the EuroMaidan Revolution to more than 100 casualties.