Ukraine parliament names speaker Turchinov interim president

Duncan Crawford in Independence Square: "It's quieter and calmer here than at any point I've seen in the past month"

Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker as interim president.

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

Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych's luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday.

The whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych, who described parliament's decision to vote him out as a coup, remain unclear.

Thousands of protesters remain in Independence Square where the atmosphere is described as calm.


One day after a string of events that would have been sufficient for a year's worth of activity in most countries, Ukrainians have awoken today to two fundamental questions: Who is in charge of the country? And what next?

Technically speaking, President Viktor Yanukovych has been deposed, after the country's parliament voted to dismiss him by a legally-binding constitutional majority.

Oleksandr Turchynov of the Fatherland Party, and a close ally of the recently-freed Yulia Tymoshenko, is in charge.

But Mr Yanukovych claims he is still president. The next days will show whether he can mobilise enough followers in the country's east and south to mount a challenge.

However, Ukraine's new government may also have a short time to win public support. Many on Independence Square are sceptical of Ukraine's entire political class, Ms Tymoshenko included, and may start searching soon for an entirely new set of leaders.

Late on Saturday, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from detention in the eastern city of Kharkiv after a vote in parliament, urged opposition supporters in Independence Square to continue protesting.

Her release was one of the conditions of the EU-Ukraine trade pact that President Yanukovych rejected last year - triggering the protests that led to the current crisis.

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

Mr Turchinov, a close associate of freed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, described forming a unity government as a "priority task".

"We don't have much time," one of the opposition leaders, 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."

In another move, parliament voted to dismiss Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, an ally of Mr Yanukovych.

Yulia Tymoshenko told the crowd that "heroes never die"

Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko: 'Protesters should stay in square'

Mr Yanukovych is refusing 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.

Independence Square, 23 February 2014 Kiev's central Independence Square remained occupied the morning after Saturday's rapid developments
Financial support

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

Ukraine crisis timeline

  • President Yanukovych abandons planned deal with EU, 21 November 2013
  • Protests escalate with 100,000 gathering in Kiev's Independence Square three days later
  • More than 80 killed in bloodiest clashes 18-20 February
  • Parliament ousts president 22 February; he leaves Kiev and fresh elections called for 25 May
  • Freed former PM and opposition figurehead Yulia Tymoshenko then addresses cheering crowds on Independence Square

Mr Lew stressed 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 - $2bn - instalment of financial help for Ukraine.

"We are planning to wait until a new government is formed and until we understand the policy of this government and then we shall make a decision," Siluanov was quoted by website as saying.

In a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry noted the "peaceful atmosphere" prevailing in Kiev after the departure of President Yanukovych, officials said.

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

The European Union, too, has said it stands ready to assist a new government.

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

Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said in Sydney: "It is important that we provide a clear European perspective for the Ukrainian people".

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC he would be speaking to Mr Lavrov on Monday.

"It's very important for us to persuade Russia that this need not be a zero-sum game," he said.


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