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Former Ukraine president Yanukovych found guilty of treason

A court in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday sentenced former president Viktor Yanukovych in absentia to 13 years in prison after finding him guilty of treason and helping Russian aggression.

Yanukovych, currently in Russia, is being tried in absentia

Viktor Yanukovych, shown with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013, fled Ukraine in 2014 as tensions in Kyiv flared up following a deadly police crackdown on protesters calling for the president to follow through with an association agreement with the European Union. (Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press)

A court in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday sentenced former president Viktor Yanukovych in absentia to 13 years in prison after finding him guilty of treason and helping Russian aggression.

There was no immediate reaction from Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after being forced from power by massive protests in February 2014. The demonstrations were sparked by Yanukovych's decision to abruptly spike an association agreement with the European Union in favour of close ties with Russia.

The Kremlin has used a request by Yanukovych as one of the legal grounds to seize Crimea and later formally annex the peninsula.

The annexation of Crimea triggered hostilities in Eastern Ukraine where fighting between Russia-backed separatists and government troops has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Lawyer says Yanukovych in hospital 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced the protests that removed Yanukovych from office as a Western-backed coup, and scathingly criticized Yanukovych for lacking the guts to crush them.

At a United Nations Security Council session on March 1, 2014, a Russian envoy had read out a request by Yanukovych to send Russian troops to Ukraine.

Yanukovych later said he did send a letter to Putin asking for military assistance, but claimed that was not an official invitation for boots on the ground.

Earlier in the trial, Yanukovych testified via video link from Moscow. His lawyer has said the former president would not be able to follow the verdict because he is in hospital after sustaining injuries on a Moscow tennis court in November.

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