World News

Ukraine Begins Work on National Unity Government

A top Ukrainian opposition politician has assumed the post of interim president less than a day after the country's former leader Victor Yanukovych was dismissed from office.

Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Turchynov, a longtime ally of opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, was named to the post following a parliament vote Sunday.

Ms. Tymoshenko, who was released from prison Saturday, said she did not want to be considered for the post.

Meanwhile, the whereabouts of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych remains unclear one day after he left Kyiv for his support base in the country's east.

Opposition party leader Vitali Klitschko said Sunday the ousted leader should take full responsibility for the recent deadly violence in Ukraine.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday for talks with key players and to discuss measures to stabilize the economy.

As part of a deal to end weeks of violence, Ms. Tymoshenko, a former prime minister was freed from a prison hospital where she had been serving time for abuse of power - a charge her supporters say was political revenge by President Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr. Yanukovych, who had fled Kyiv for the eastern city of Kharkiv, said parliament's decisions are illegal. He likened the opposition to Nazis and insisted he will not resign or leave Ukraine.

Protests erupted in November when Mr. Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia. The protests began peacefully, but descended into violence. Nearly 100 people were killed, including some protesters shot in the head by police snipers.

Ukraine is split between those in the east who favor ties with Russia, and those in the west who lean toward the European Union.

The United States and European allies have warned Russia not to send forces into Ukraine.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice told NBC's Meet The Press that it would be a "grave mistake" for Russia to intervene militarily.

Ukrainian protesters took control of President Yanukovych's offices in Kyiv Saturday. Others let themselves onto the grounds of the president's lavish but secret estate outside Kyiv, which includes a private zoo, and toured his house. Some say they are stunned that one person could have so much while others in Ukraine have nothing.

Ms. Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution when the Supreme Court threw out the results of an apparently flawed presidential election won by Mr. Yanukovych and ordered a new vote. She became prime minister under the new president, Viktor Yushchenko.

After Mr. Yanukovych defeated Ms. Tymoshenko in the 2010 presidential election, she was put on trial for alleged abuse of power over a natural gas deal with Russia and sentenced to prison.


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