Ukraine's President Yanukovych Planned Crackdown As He Fled, Documents Show

02/25/2014 01:12 pm ET | Updated Feb 26, 2014

Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych was planning a massive crackdown involving thousands of army troops, according to documents leaked to the Financial Times.

The papers, which the Financial Times said were verified by senior Ukrainian officials, refer to plans to move security forces from the southern regions of Ukraine into the capital, Kiev, for an "antiterrorist" operation that involved warrantless searches and authorized the use of weapons on protesters. The newspaper adds that another document, posted to Facebook by a former interior minister who claimed to have received it from "patriotic law enforcement officials," details plans for an operation aimed at regaining control of Kiev's city center.

The operation would have used as a pretext an alleged plot by Right Sector, a radical wing of the protests, to engage in terrorist acts, setting off bombs at government buildings. It detailed a strategy of a two-pronged attack that would push protesters in two directions. From there, they would be filtered, with “threatening” protesters detained

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The orders for these possible movements were never carried out and what might have developed into an all-out war between demonstrators and the military was avoided. Instead Yanukovych fled the capital for the eastern city of Kharkiv, near the border with Russia, leaving behind thousands of files such as these at his offices. As journalists and opposition officials combed through the piles of documents in recent days, a grim picture emerged of mass corruption and desperation.

It appears Yanukovych and his allies tried to destroy much of the evidence ahead of their departure from the capital. The Guardian reports CCTV footage shows "trucks being loaded with boxes before Yanukovych jumps into a helicopter and flees his palatial compound." Many of the documents left behind are charred and burned, while others were thrown en masse into a water reservoir only to be foiled by the floating plastic binders they were housed in.

Among the files there are details of extravagant purchases including a $115,000 wild boar statue, cash transactions to mysterious businesses, and perhaps most shockingly, the orders that would have turned the army against its own people. This lengthy paper trail will provide ample evidence for prosecutors should Yanukovych be arrested, and what was once testament to the power and wealth of his regime may become his noose.

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