Ukraine Speaker made interim President, sets Tuesday deadline for new govt

Ex-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko announced her presidency bid after she was released from the jail.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Feb 23, 2014, 17:38 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Kiev: A day after Viktor Yanukovych was removed, Ukraine Parliament on Sunday designated its speaker as the interim President, who set the Tuesday deadline for the formation of a fresh government.

Speaker Oleksander Turchinov, who will now take charge as the interim President until elections are held on May 25, even as the whereabouts of Viktor Yanukovych remain unknown, reported the BBC.

The Parliament on Sunday also voted to give the control of Yanukoych`s sprawling presidential estate in Kiev to the government control.

These developments came after Saturday, that proved to be a turning point for Ukrainians, as Viktor Yanukovych was removed as the country`s President in what he called as a “coup” and ex-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko announced her presidency bid after she was released from the jail.

Addressing a huge crowd from the wheelchair, an emotional Tymoshenko said, “You are Heroes”.

"Because nobody could do it - not other countries, nobody - could do what you have done. We`ve eliminated this cancer, this tumour," she said.

She urged them to continue the protests, saying "Until you finish this job and until we travel all the way, nobody has the right to leave".

Hailing the removal of Yanukovych, Yanukovych told tens of thousands of cheering supporters, “Today a dictatorship fell...A new epoch has started - an epoch of free people, of a free European Ukraine”.

Meanwhile reports said that Yanukovych was stopped by the custom agents from flying out of the country from the eastern city of Donetsk, even as his aides tried to bribe them.

In a televised interview after he left Kiev for the pro-Russian eastern bastion city of Kharkiv, Yanukovich called his removal as a coup and refused to leave the country.

He added that he would not resign, and called the parliament move as "illegal". 

 "I am not leaving the country for anywhere. I do not intend to resign. I am the legitimately elected president."

"The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d`etat," he said, comparing it to the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany in the 1930s.

The release of Yanukovych`s arch-rival former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko came as the Parliament on Friday approved a measure enabling her release. Tymoshenko had been in prison for over two and a half years, serving a sentence after being convicted of abuse of office, charges that domestic and Western critics have denounced as a political vendetta by Yanukovych, who she had defeated in 2004 by leading the Orange Revolution.

The ex-PM`s release is set to bring a remarkable change in Ukraine`s politics, as the nation of 46 million people is bound to shift the nation closer to the EU and the West, and away from Russian influence.

Her release was hailed by the US, with the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wishing him a speedy recovery from the back problem she suffers.

"We welcome former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko`s release from a prison hospital today, and we wish her a speedy recovery as she seeks the appropriate medical treatment that she has long needed and sought," Carney said.

The US has consistently advocated a de-escalation of violence, constitutional change, a coalition government, and early elections, and today`s developments could move closer to that goal, he said in a statement.

Also, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called Tymoshenko`s release "essential for a democratic Ukraine".

On Saturday, in what an opposition leader called as a
"political knockout", Ukrainian lawmakers voted to remove Yanukovych as president and agreed for a fresh election on May 25.
The remarkable turnaround in Ukraine`s politics came after three months of protests that was sparked after Yanukovych pulled out of an agreement with the EU, apparently under the influence of Moscow.

Ukraine has been witnessing chaos and violence since November last with Kiev`s Independence Square being the battleground of the clashes between the protesters and the police, that also saw sniper attacks besides stun grenades and smoke bombs.

According to the country`s Health Ministry, the death toll in the violence has reached 82, reported the BBC.

The protesters were emboldened on Saturday after the police stopped guarding the presidential luxury estate, allowing them in.