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Sun 23 Feb 2014 10:29 AM

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Ukrainian president not in UAE – official

Deposed Viktor Yanukovich had reportedly landed at Fujairah airport

Ukrainian president not in UAE – official
Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich

Authorities in the UAE have denied reports that ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich arrived in the Gulf state on Saturday after fleeing violent protests in his country.

A report on news website Espreso.tv claimed that a plane carrying Yanukovich landed at Fujairah International Airport amid conflicting reports that he was in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Russia or Belarus.

An official at Fujairah airport denied that an aircraft was carrying the president, stating that the passenger was a Ukrainian businessman who often visited the UAE, and had made an emergency landing at the airport.

"The Ukrainian plane, with a Ukrainian businessman who continuously frequents UAE for business onboard, made an emergency landing at Fujairah International Airport due to heavy fog, and the situation was handled successfully for the safety of the plane and passengers," a statement from the airport read, as posted on official UAE news agency WAM.

The apparent disappearance of Yanukovich came just hours after Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove the president and hold elections on May 25.

Protesters in the country have been involved in a standoff in Kiev with authorities for the past three months, spurred by Yanukovich’s government’s rejection of an accord with the European Union in favour of stronger ties with Russia.

Demonstrations intensified dramatically in February after riot police moved in to clear a protest camp in the capital’s Independence Square, as well as the disappearance and alleged torture of some protesters.

On February 20, 77 people were said to have been killed in a matter of hours, with nearly 600 injured.

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