Exiled Yanukovych slams Poroshenko ahead of Ukraine vote

Ukraine's exiled former president Viktor Yanukovych was found guilty in absentia of high treason by a Kiev court last month (AFP Photo/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Moscow (AFP) - Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych who fled to Russia in 2014 slammed his pro-Western successor Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, accusing him of planning to rig next month's presidential election.

"It is impossible for Poroshenko to win without rigging the election," he told a press conference in Moscow, saying that the Ukrainian authorities would "use all possible resources" to that end.

And he warned that Poroshenko winning a second term in office would have "unpredictable consequences" for Ukraine.

Last month, a Kiev court found Yanukovych guilty of high treason and sentenced him in absentia to 13 years in prison for asking Russia's Vladimir Putin to send troops to Ukraine during the 2014 crisis.

But on Wednesday, Yanukovych denounced the verdict as having "nothing to do with the law" and saying it had been "dictated by the authorities".

He did not come out in favour of any other candidate in the March 31 vote, although a poll earlier this week tipped popular comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, who plays the country's president in a TV series, as the current favourite.

Various polls put him at between 19 and 23 percent, with former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Poroshenko several points behind.

Yanukovych was ousted five years ago following a bloody uprising.

He fled the country and asked the Russian president to send troops to Ukraine to help restore his control.

Putin later revealed that Yanukovych had been extracted from the country in a special operation organised by Moscow.

Yanukovych has all but vanished from view since his violent suppression of the 2014 street protests and little is known about how Ukraine's former strongman passes his time.