Ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich has broken his two-week silence and called for a referendum in the ex-Soviet state to determine each region's "status within Ukraine".
After fleeing to Russia last month after anti-government demonstrations mobilised in Kiev, Yanukovich has given a press conference but remained tight-lipped on Russia's annexation of the Crimea region.
"As a president who is with you with all my thoughts and soul, I urge every sensible citizen of Ukraine: Don't give in to impostors! Demand a referendum on the status of each region within Ukraine," said Yanukovych, quoted by Itar-Tass news agency.
The toppled leader condemned new Ukrainian elections scheduled for May, in which former President Yulia Tymoshenko is running after her release from prison, and still insists that he is the President of Ukraine.
He is wanted for mass murder in Ukraine after the bloodshed that ensued during the anti-government protesters when government snipers and police shot more than 100 people.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the former leader refuge in Russia before annexing the Crimea region in an internationally condemned referendum.
The Ukraine crisis began when Yanukovich reneged on a trade association deal with the European Union, signing a customs union deal with Russia instead.
- Growing Threat of Russia Invasion of Eastern Ukraine - US Intelligence
- Yulia Tymoshenko: Ukraine Ex-PM to Run for President
- Ukraine Crisis: Russia Stages Major Siberia Rocket Training Drill
- Ukraine Crisis: Vigilantes Hunt and Capture Pro-Russia Thugs in Dnepropetrovsk
- Russia vs US: Ukraine Crimea Crisis is Not Another Cold War, Says Obama