Ukraine protesters give Cabinet candidates mixed reaction

Feb. 26, 2014 at 4:00 PM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Nominees for Ukraine's nascent interim Cabinet were presented to tens of thousands of protesters at their main camp in Kiev Wednesday.

The KyevPost reported the Cabinet nominees who climbed the stage in Independence Square in front of the throngs of anti-government protesters who toppled President Viktor Yanukovych last week are a blend of long-time politicos and newly minted activists.

The newspaper said members of Parliament will vote on the candidates Thursday.

Not all of the candidates were met with approval, the KyevPost said. Oleksander Turchynov, a former prime minister who is the interim president named parliamentary speaker, and Arseniv Yateseniuk, who is up for prime minister, were booed.

Turchynov, a member of the Batkivschyna Party, sought to tamp down the disgruntled protesters.

"You may criticize the Parliament, but you have no other authority now except it," he said.

Olga Bohomolets, a doctor who has spent the past three months treating injured protesters and would be deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs in the new government, drew a warm response from the crowd when she pledged to root out corruption or quit.

"If I see any corrupt schemes, I will come to Maidan [Square] and will head Maidan's medical service again," she said.

KyevPost said other candidates received at least a smattering of applause.

The BBC reported Yanukovych, who has dropped from sight, has been put on the international wanted list, accused in the deaths of more than 100 protesters at the hands of riot police.

The British broadcaster also said pro-Kiev and pro-Moscow demonstrators clashed in Simferopol Wednesday, with police stepping in to separate to two sides.

International powers also jockeyed for position, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling on Russia to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, the BBC said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military drill near the border with Ukraine, a common activity but not usually under such tense circumstances, the Washington Post reported.

U.S. envoy Williams Burns said it is vital that Ukraine's Parliament form a multiparty, technical government that represents all of the country.

"Once that government is formed, we and our international partners can begin to take immediate steps to help support Ukraine economically and implement the reforms necessary to restore Ukraine's political and economic health," Burns, a deputy secretary of state, said after meeting with Ukrainian leaders in Kiev.

He said a team of economic specialists from the Treasury Department and White House would remain in the Ukrainian capital after he leaves.

"We also look forward to working with the new government and civil society to support free and fair presidential elections in May," Burns said. "We will continue to firmly support Ukraine's unity and territorial integrity, and healthy relations with all of its neighbors, including Russia."

The United States would provide assistance not only to help revitalize the Ukrainian economy but also support for the political process, Burns said.

Burns said the United States is prepared to work with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to bolster Ukraine's economy.

Asked about Russia's not recognizing the current government and what can be done to convince Moscow to recognize it, Burns reiterated the U.S. support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and unity, which is "in our view, of the entire international community, including Russia."

Russia, which backed Yanukovych, maintains he was ousted by an "armed mutiny" of extremists and terrorists but said it won't interfere with Ukraine's affairs militarily.

Burns also stressed that the United States "strongly supports the unity and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Separatism of the sort that you've seen some speculation about in recent days is not in Ukraine's interest and it's not in anybody's interest."

In Kiev, acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Wednesday he signed an order disbanding the riot police force deployed by Yanukovych against the protesters, CNN reported. The Washington Post said members of the force were immediately offered sanctuary in the pro-Russian Crimean Peninsula.

Alexej Chaliy, the pro-Russian mayor of Sevastopol, claimed Tuesday he secured funding to pay the elite Berkut force in his city even after it was disbanded. The BBC said some in Sevastopol, a port city in the Crimean Peninsula, replaced the Ukrainian flag on a local government building with a Russian flag.

Yanukovych's base is in eastern Ukraine, where the Russian culture and language are dominant and residents are wary of the Western Europe-leaning views of those who live in western Ukraine, CNN said.

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