Russia, its military helped Yanukovych leave Ukraine in 2014 - former security guard
A serviceman of the State Guard Department of Ukraine, Viktor Riznychenko, who was guarding former President Viktor Yanukovych, does not have information about any threats to the life of the former president in the winter of 2014.
During his interrogation as a witness in the Yanukovych treason case in the Obolonsky District Court of Kyiv on Thursday, January 18, he said that on February 21, 2014, the ex-president was first in his administration and in the afternoon, at about 17.00, he left for his residence in Mezhyhiria. At about 22.00, Riznychenko heard over the radio that Yanukovych had left his residence and a few hours later he had been ordered to leave for Kharkiv. For this purpose, employees of the State Guard Department met on the Kyiv-Kharkiv highway.
The witness said that early on February 22, he was already in Kharkiv, where there was also the former president who gave an interview to the media and was to participate in a Party of Regions congress, which had later been canceled.
"In the afternoon of February 22, in the presidential motorcade, I left for Kharkiv airport, where there were two helicopters with several security guards, in one of which there was Yanukovych, and in the other there was his family and several other security officers," Riznychenko said.
According to him, about an hour after departure, State Guar Department employees were informed that an Ukraerorukh dispatcher had contacted them and proposed returning to Kharkiv. Riznychenko said that "it was Turchynov's order." However, since there was not enough fuel to return to Kharkiv, helicopters landed at Donetsk airport.
The witness noted that immediately after arrival in Donetsk, the then head of the security service of the Ukrainian president, Kostiantyn Kobzar, had given an order to board two Falcon-type aircraft. However, the staff of the State Border Service of Ukraine approached them and said that they were forbidden to fly due to the fact that some documents had not been filed.
Then Yanukovych and his entourage moved to cars and proceeded to a "big house" in Donetsk. Later, answering the questions of lawyers, Riznychenko said that staying in this house, together with Yanukovych, were also his son, Oleksandr, and businessman Rinat Akhmetov.
He said that on February 22, the motorcade of the ex-president and his companions left for Crimea. According to him, they stopped in a field near Berdiansk, where three Mi-8 helicopters landed.
Riznychenko showed that there were red stars on the fuselages of helicopters and that pilots were in special equipment.
"I think that these were helicopters of the Russian Federation," he said.
Yanukovych and those who accompanied him flew on these helicopters in an unknown direction and flew "over the sea."
"After a certain period of time, we landed on the airfield, where we were met by Russian servicemen. We stayed until the morning in trailers on the airfield," the witness said.
On February 23, the ex-president and his security guards and a "group of unknown armed men" flew farther on an An-26 military transport plane and then landed on another unknown airfield, because "it was impossible to continue flying for technical reasons."
They stayed there for about an hour and a half and, according to the witness, he saw a technical vehicle with the inscription "Anapa" on the airfield.
"I assume that it was the city of Anapa in the Russian Federation," Riznychenko.
Then there was a flight on another plane to another airport, where they were met again by Russian military and their vehicles. In the future, the witness realized that he was in Crimea.
"We came to Yalta, to a sanatorium or a recreation center, which most likely belonged to the Russian Federation," he said.
He noted that on the evening of February 23, they left for Sevastopol and arrived at a Russian military unit. They were addressed by Yanukovych, who proposed that security guards make a choice "to move with him further" or stay if anyone does not want to move. He said that at about 23.00, the ex-president went further with his companions.
Riznychenko and other security guards who did not follow Yanukovych passed their weapons to the State Guard Department branch in Miskhor and left for Kyiv by train the next morning.