Ukraine‘s parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor Yanukovich from office, hours after he abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup.
The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian leader looks likely to dramatically alter the future of the former Soviet republic of 46 million people, pulling it closer to Europe and away from Moscow’s orbit.
It is also a stark reversal for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dream of recreating as much as possible of the Soviet Union in a new Eurasian Union, in which Moscow had counted on Yanukovich to deliver Ukraine as a central member.
The Ukrainian parliament, which decisively abandoned Yanukovich after loyalists defected, declared the president constitutionally unable to carry out his duties and set an early election for May 25.
Deputies in the assembly stood, applauded and sang the national anthem.