Ukraine's new leaders tighten grip on power

Ukraine’s Parliament on Sunday voted to appoint its speaker Oleksandr Turchynov as interim President

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:54 pm IST

Published - February 23, 2014 03:28 pm IST - MOSCOW:

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (centre), addresses the crowd in central Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday hours after being released from prison.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (centre), addresses the crowd in central Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday hours after being released from prison.

Ukraine’s opposition on Sunday moved to consolidate its victory over President Viktor Yanukovych, voting to appoint newly elected Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov as Interim President and moving to form a new government.

Mr. Yanukovych, who fled Kiev for Kharkiv in pro-Russian East on Friday, defied the Parliament’s decision to sack and impeach him, denouncing it as a “coup.” However, his whereabouts were unknown on Sunday amid reports he tried to leave the country but his plane was stopped by border guards in Donetsk, an industrial city close to the border with Russia.

Mr. Turchinov is a close ally of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was jailed for abuse of office two years ago but set free on Saturday by the Parliament’s decision.

Addressing cheering crowds in Kiev’s Maidan square on Saturday night, the fiery “princess” of the 2004 “orange revolution” declared, as 10 years ago, “the end of dictatorship” and called for trying Mr Yanukovych and “his clique” by “people’s court.”

The opposition leaders said they are seeking the arrest of former senior officials, including the Incomes Minister, Prosecutor General and Interior Minister. The three were reportedly stopped Saturday by border control from leaving the country by plane.

Maidan or Independence Square was the epicentre of three-month-long anti-government protests that turned violent in recent weeks, claiming more than 80 lives in clashes between protesters and police. Armed radical protesters have replaced police in Kiev and many pro-opposition cities in Ukraine’s western provinces.

Mr. Tymoshenko announced her decision to run for President in snap elections the Parliament has scheduled for May 25 and is already tipped to win.

The Parliament on Sunday declared null and void a 2012 law that approved the use of the Russian language in courts, schools and other government institutions in provinces where Russian-speakers accounted for more than 10 percent of the population.

The move may further alienate Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions, which on Saturday refused to recognise the legitimacy of new authorities in Kiev and abide by their orders.

Opposition leaders admitted Sunday that Ukraine faced bankruptcy.

“There is absolutely no money on the treasury account,” Speaker-cum-Interim President Turchinov told Parliament, accusing the Yanukovych government of “robbing” the country.

Ukraine’s Parliament on Sunday decided to form an inter-party commission that will try to form a new “national unity government”.

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