Ukraine’s Activists Delay Forming New Cabinet
Kiev, Ukraine — The interim leaders of Ukraine stepped on the brakes Tuesday as they faced resistance from street protesters and some members of parliament, who objected that they were moving too fast in forming a new cabinet just three days after the old regime collapsed.
New ministers for every department were supposed to be in place by the end of the day. But protests from the Maidan — the city’s main square that is still thickly populated with demonstrators — about a lack of input forced the leaders of parliament to wait at least until Thursday, despite European worries that Ukraine needs to move quickly to get its financial house in order.
And members of the parliament, or Verkhovna Rada, complained that the speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, was pushing bills through with little regard for debate or transparency — much as his predecessor had railroaded a package of harshly repressive laws through the parliament in January, in an act that set off violent clashes between aggressive hardline protesters and police.
But the slowdown also comes as Ukraine remains deeply unsettled by the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. In Kharkiv, a large eastern city where hostility to the Maidan was strong, tensions ran high as rival crowds faced off, with no one seemingly in charge. In the Crimea, with a strong pro-Russian population, a Russian flag was raised on a major government building and four Russian legislators met with local officials.
Officials in Moscow continued Tuesday to express displeasure with events in Ukraine, if not as harshly as the day before. One bill that flew through the Rada on Monday downgraded the status of Russian as an official language, which struck critics as an unnecessary and incendiary move, and which opened Ukraine’s new authorities to stinging criticism from their larger neighbor.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, tweeted Tuesday, “We want to curtail the influence of radicals and nationalists who are trying to play first fiddle in Ukraine.”
Events in Ukraine has been a major setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants to draw Ukraine into a new Eurasian Economic Union. Moscow argues that the Ukrainian protests have been taken over by extremists. But on the Maidan, there were strong fears that the revolution was being sold out.
Activists were unhappy with the roster of veteran politicians being mentioned for top posts in a new government. And one very familiar face was missing Tuesday — the giant poster with a portrait of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and arch-foe of Yanukovych, had been taken down.
Her release from prison Saturday had turned her into a player again instead of a cause, but she is no longer a uniting factor among what until a few days ago was the opposition. Her party said she would be going to Germany for medical treatment.
“We need totally new people,” said Yaroslav Kazmyrchuk, 70, who described himself as a pensioner and a revolutionary.
Meanwhile, there was still no conclusive word Tuesday on the whereabouts of Yanukovych, a day after the authorities here announced a nationwide manhunt for him on murder charges.