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Published: Saturday February 22, 2014 MYT 11:50:19 PM
Updated: Saturday February 22, 2014 MYT 11:50:19 PM

Ukraine parliament votes to oust Yanukovich, sets May election

KIEV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian parliament voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday and set an early election for May 25, after Yanukovich abandoned the capital but refused to resign.

The 450-seat parliament backed the motion by 328 votes, declaring Yanukovich unable to carry out his constitutional obligations.

It following mass defections from Yanukovich's Party of Regions. Deputies stood, applauded and sang the national anthem.

Reading the motion to the chamber, speaker Oleksander Turchynov - newly appointed from the opposition benches - said Yanukovich had "abandoned his constitutional responsibilities, which threatens the functioning of the state, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine".

Citing the risk of "mass violations" of the rights of the people, lawmakers endorsed the motion declaring the president had "unconstitutionally given up his responsibilities and is unable to carry out his duties."

They set a presidential election for May 25, bringing the vote forward from March 2015.

Yanukovich, who was believed to be in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, had earlier denounced what he called a "coup d'etat" after protesters peacefully took control of his Kiev offices and opulent residence 15 km (10 miles) outside the capital.

In a television interview, Yanukovich said he had no intention of resigning or leaving Ukraine, and that all decisions taken by parliament on Saturday were illegal.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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