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Ukraine: Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov named Interim President

February 23, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker as interim president.

Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov and Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov and Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who was freed from jail

Oleksandr Turchynov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday. Mr Turchynov told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.

Yulia Tymoshenko, who was freed from jail on Saturday, has ruled out becoming prime minister again.

Her release was one of the conditions of the EU-Ukraine trade pact that Mr Yanukovych rejected last year.

The move triggered the protests that led to the current crisis.

The health ministry says 88 people, mostly protesters, are now known to have been killed in clashes since 18 February.

Kiev’s central Independence Square remained occupied the morning after Saturday’s rapid developments

Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Kiev’s Independence Square, heeding opposition calls not to disperse.

In response to reports that her name was being mentioned as a possible candidate, Yulia Tymoshenko issued a statement reading: “No-one has agreed or discussed this with me.

“Thank you for your respect but I would like you not to consider my nomination for the post of the head of government.

Mr Turchynov, a close associate of Ms Tymoshenko, described forming a unity government as a “priority task”.

“We don’t have much time,” one of the opposition leaders, former world champion boxer Vitaly Klitschko, said as parliament began its debate.

Speaking to the BBC, he also suggested a bid for the presidency in elections scheduled for 25 May.

“I want to make Ukraine a modern European country,” he said. “If I can do that through the president’s position, I will do my best.”

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In other decisions on Sunday:

  • Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara and Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk were dismissed
  • Arrest warrants were issued for former Incomes Minister Oleksandr Klimenko and former Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka
  • Parliament lowered the official status of the Russian language by cancelling a law brought in by Mr Yanukovych
  • Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych’s luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday

In an address on Saturday aired before MPs voted to remove him, Mr Yanukovych refused to officially stand down. He is last thought to have been in Kharkiv after travelling there late on Friday night.

Media reports have quoted Ukrainian officials as saying he was stopped by border police while attempting to fly to Russia aboard a private plane.

Unverified CCTV appeared to show Viktor Yanukovych fleeing his Kiev residence

Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko: “Protesters should stay in square”

MPs from Mr Yanukovych’s Party of Regions now appear to be disowning him.

“Ukraine was betrayed and people were set against each other. Full responsibility for this rests with Yanukovych and his entourage,” its MPs said in a statement carried by Interfax-Ukraine.

Financial support

International reaction to events in Ukraine has continued on Sunday, with US National Security Adviser Susan Rice warning Russia it would be a “grave mistake” to intervene militarily.

Russia and the US have been on opposite sides during the Ukraine crisis, which the US, along with the EU, backing the opposition.

“It’s not in the interests of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or the United States to see a country split,” Ms Rice told NBC.

There has been a fear that the crisis may exacerbate divisions between the Russian-leaning east of the country and the more pro-EU west.

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported to have called Ms Tymoshenko and urged her to work for unity.

Mrs Merkel also called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to discuss the crisis; both agreed that the country’s “territorial integrity must be safeguarded”, her spokesman said.

Yulia Tymoshenko told the crowd that “heroes never die”

The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse takes a look around the presidential retreat

Germany is trying to act as a broker in the conflict and to assuage Russian fears that it will be threatened if Ukraine moves closer to the European Union, the BBC’s Stephen Evans reports from Berlin.

Some German government MPs have called for swift financial aid to Ukraine, possibly involving the International Monetary Fund, our correspondent reports.

Moscow recently agreed to provide $15 billion (£9bn; 11bn euros) to support the Ukrainian government. If Russia withdrew that offer, the debate in Berlin is whether the European Union could replace the Russian money and how that might affect relations with Moscow, he adds.

Earlier, a US official said US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had discussed Ukraine with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Sydney.

Mr Lew told reporters the US was ready to work “with other countries, including Russia,” to help Ukraine “as it implements reforms to restore economic stability and seeks to return to a path of democracy and growth”.

However, Mr Siluanov has left open the question of whether Russia will pay the next instalment of financial help for Ukraine, worth $2bn.

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BBC News –  Europe

February 23, 2014

Related link –  http://tinyurl.com/mh7vsdm

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