Yanukovych was elected President in 2010, defeating Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The election was judged free and fair by international observers. November 2013 saw the beginning of a series of events that led to his ousting as President. Yanukovych rejected a pending EU association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia. This led to protests and the occupation of Kiev's Independence Square, a series of events dubbed the "Euromaidan" by young pro-European Union Ukrainians. In January 2014, this developed into deadly clashes in Independence Square and in other areas across Ukraine, as Ukrainian citizens confronted the Berkut and other special police units. In February 2014, Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war, as violent clashes between protesters and special police forces led to many deaths and injuries. On 21 February 2014, Yanukovych claimed that, after lengthy discussions, he had reached an agreement with the opposition. Later that day, however, he left the capital for Kharkiv, saying his car was shot at as he left Kiev, and travelling next to Crimea, and eventually to exile in southern Russia.