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Ukraine’s exiled president, Viktor Yanukovych, has denied ordering police to shoot protesters as he appeared in court as a witness via videolink from Russia.

Protests began in November 2013 after Mr Yanukovych decided to scrap a landmark deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia.

Over the following few months, more than 100 anti-Yanukovych demonstrators were killed in protests in Kiev’s Maidan Square.

Dozens of them were allegedly shot by police snipers who Ukrainian officials say received their orders directly from Mr Yanukovych.

The pro-Kremlin leader fled to Russia days later.

On Monday he spoke to a court in the Ukrainian capital where five former special forces officers stand accused of fatally shooting the protesters.

Speaking via videolink from a courtroom in Russia, he denied ordering the officers to fire on demonstrators, adding that he “could not have possibly given such orders”.

Berkut (Ukrainian police special police forces) officers sit in the dock in a courtroom next to screens during a live video link from Russia with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, as he is questioned on his role in the killing of dozens of people during Kiev's February 2014 pro-EU revolt, in Kiev, on November 28, 2016 Image Caption: Ukraine’s prosecutor-general has told Mr Yanukovych he may face treason charges

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general told Mr Yanukovych he could yet face charges of treason in relation to the shootings.

Mr Yanukovych told the court he had been “surprised” by the protesters’ feelings, saying there were “different provocations in December, January and February (that) made the situation worse”.

He added: “Radicals and those who manipulated them are guilty. I’m confident that they provoked bloodshed.”

He said he could not remember whether he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone during the protests or whether he had met one of Mr Putin’s close aides at the time.

He had seen news of the shootings firstly in the media, he said, adding that Ukraine’s new leaders had destroyed important evidence about what had happened over those few days.

Speaking to reporters in Rostov-on-Don later on Monday, he said that half of Ukrainians supported him and that his exile from the country was “difficult” for them.

He also said he felt “great anxiety” about the trial in Kiev after the prosecutor-general’s comments.

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