KIEV, Ukraine (USA TODAY) Ukraine's ousted president remained in hiding Monday with a mass murder arrest warrant on his head as Russia said the turmoil in Ukraine represented a threat to its own citizens.
Viktor Yanukovych was last seen in the pro-Russia region of Crimea on Sunday when he relinquished his official security detail and shirt down communications, Interior Minister Arsen Avakhov said. He said Yanukovych and his aides were all being investigated for murder in anti-government protests in which more than 100 died.
Meanwhile, the parliament in Kiev set new elections of May, well ahead of the December ones that Yanukovych had agreed to, and it reached out to Europe and the West for financial assistance for its ailing economy.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met Monday with Ukraine parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, the country's acting president who said he hoped to form a unity government by Tuesday to calm a nation jittery over Russian threats and angry about an apparent lavish lifestyle led by the ousted regime.
"I wish he would be punished for all he did, all the blood he shed," said grandmother Tamara Pokyska, who was lining up to board a bus for a tour of Yanukovych's compound near Kiev.
"I was here from the first day and I was here with my grandson when they burned the square and I can't forget it," she said, crying.
"He should be executed," said Stanislaw Castaca, a volunteer at a clothes distribution point for protesters. "But we should also thank him - he united the people in different regions - places that don't normally get along - against him."
Russia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev questioned the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities on Monday and alleged that the new regime in Ukraine came to power as a result of "armed mutiny."
He lashed out at what he called the European Union's recognition of the new authorities as an "aberration of consciousness." He said Russia would be ready to resume relations with Ukraine once it sees a "normal, modern government based on laws and constitution of Ukraine."
"If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government," he said.
He said Russia's decision to recall its ambassador in Kiev for consultations meant that "there is a threat for our interests, and for life and health of our people in the embassy."
But the new government in Ukraine was approved in a vote by a vast majority of the elected parliament, including many members of Yanukovych's ruling party. Those with the guns in the streets for months have been the government troops and its irregular forces, not protesters.
Hennady Moskal, an opposition lawmaker and former deputy interior minister, said he found documents detailing plans to violently suppress the demonstrations, according to the Kiev Post. The documents claim Russian officials acted as advisers with regard to the plans.
U.S. National Security adviser Susan Rice said Sunday the situation in Kiev "reflects the will of the Ukrainian people and the interests of the United States and Europe," and that Russia should not make a "grave mistake" by getting involved militarily.
Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 when the government there tried to put down an insurrection in a Russian-speaking part of the country.
Tours were led through the palace to show Ukrainians the yacht and millions of dollars' worth of chandeliers, ostriches peacocks paid for by taxpayers enjoyed by Yanukovych. His deputy head of the central bank was found in a Lexus packed with $70,000 dollars in bills, gold and silver coins, and whiskey.
Outside the residence, which lawmakers voted to return to the state this weekend, hung sign: "Please be careful not to destroy any evidence within of this thievery."
The ex-president had struck a deal with opposition leaders Thursday in which he would remain in power until new elections in December, and that no charges would be brought against protesters. That was not good enough for the protesters who refused to leave the streets and said Yanukovych had to go.
The president left Kiev on Friday and was last reported to be in east Ukraine, which is where many of his supporters reside. Security camera footage at his compound show he may have left in one of two helicopters. Ukrainian authorities say Yanukovych destroyed documents and took his pet dog with him.
Some Ukrainians believe that even in his home base Yanukovych won't find friendly faces.
"He will be arrested sooner or later - he has absolutely no support in the (Crimea) region," said businessman Ivan Kiewye.
STORY: Kiev calm as protesters turn focus to justice
There's concern that some want to initiate a split of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million, in which half the country looks toward the West and the other toward Russia. And Ukraine's Finance Ministry said it needed $35 billion to survive the year and next.
Yanukovych had accepted a bailout from Moscow, which enraged Ukrainians who wanted him to sign a deal with the EU that had been years in the making. Turchinov said he would put the Ukraine back on course for European integration.
On Monday, discussions on aid packages were taking place with numerous countries, including the EU, USA, Japan, China and Canada, a senior European Commission official told Reuters.
STORY: A 'dangerous' moment as dust settles in Ukraine
"I think that the people who are talking about secession are a very small minority," said Vitaly Chernetsky, president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies in Cambridge, Mass.
"I think that there is a lot of diversity in Ukraine. ... When you take two different viewpoints that seem to be quite extreme and in conflict with each other (and look closely), there are many shades of grey in between."
Who is Yulia Tymoshenko?
Some protesters say they are skeptical of a good and lasting outcome, pointing to the short-lived tenure of democratic changes introduced after Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution.
"This is a problem dating back to Soviet times," documentary maker Sasha Under said. "You can't change mentalities overnight."
Yaroslav Pylynskyi, director of the Kiev office of the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, suggested that Ukraine will not split over Yanuykovych.
"He was stupid," said Pylynskyi. "He didn't understand that being a head of the state is a different type of work that that of stealing money. He looked at Ukraine just as a resource to steal, steal, steal from. He thought he could do that forever."
By Charles McPhedran and Jennifer Collins, Special for USA TODAY; Contributing: Luigi Serenelli in Berlin
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