Ukraine appoints interim president

Ukraine's interim president Oleksandr Turchynov is tasked with forming a new government by Tuesday.

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KIEV // A new era dawned in Ukraine on Sunday as parliament appointed a pro-Western interim leader after ousted president Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev to escape retribution for a week of deadly carnage.

The ex-Soviet state’s tumultuous three-month crisis culminated in a dizzying flurry of historic changes over the weekend that saw parliament sideline the pro-Russian president and call a new poll for May 25.

Legislators then went a step further by approving the release from her seven-year jail sentence of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko — a star of the 2004 Orange Revolution who was thrown behind bars less than a year after Mr Yanukovich came to power in 2010.

The constitutional legitimacy of parliament’s actions remains an open question and Mr Yanukovich vowed in a taped interview to fight the “bandits” who now claimed to rule Ukraine.

But Mr Yanukovich’s grasp on power was in limited evidence in Kiev on Sunday as the city’s police presence vanished and protesters took control of everything from traffic management to protection of government buildings after a week of bloodshed that claimed nearly 100 lives.

The United States vowed to drum up financial help that could pull Ukraine out of a crisis sparked in November when Mr Yanukovich spurned a historic EU deal and secured a $15 billion (Dh55 billion) bailout for the struggling nation of 46 million people, from its old master Russia.

Legislators voted on Sunday to name close Tymoshenko ally Oleksandr Turchynov — himself only appointed parliament speaker on Saturday in place of a veteran Mr Yanukovich supporter — as interim president tasked with forming a new government by Tuesday.

Mr Turchynov immediately vowed to draw up a “government of the people” and urged leading lawmakers to build a new parliamentary majority that could swiftly approve stalled reforms.

“We have until Tuesday,” the 49-year-old interim leader said.

New interior minister Arsen Aviakov announced the launch of a probe into police involvement in the “execution” of protesters in a week of carnage that turned Kiev’s heart into a war zone.

Mr Yanukovich was dealt another blow when his own Regions Party issued a statement condemning him for issuing “criminal orders” that led to so many deaths.

Speaking at the International Government Communication Forum in Sharjah, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev blamed the turmoil in Ukraine on Mr Yanukovich’s government.

“We have seen mass uprisings in countries such as Turkey and Ukraine that underline the failure of their governments to act democratically and talk to their people. The root cause of the unrest in Ukraine was an interruption of perestroika and of the democratic process there,” he said.

The former Soviet leader also criticised aspects of globalisation and said it had become “thoughtless”.

* AFP with additional reporting by Yasin Kakande