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Spokesman: Former Yanukovych aide shot

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges after the Russia-backed president went into hiding.

Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated.

Turchinov is now nominally in charge of this strategic country of 46 million whose ailing economy faces the risk of default and whose loyalties are sharply tornArtem Peter between Europe and longtime ruler Russia.

Law enforcement agencies have issued an arrest warrant for Yanukovych over the killing of 82 people, mainly protesters - the bloodiest violence in Ukraine's post-Soviet history - that precipitated him fleeing the capital on Friday after signing a deal with opposition leaders to end months of violent clashes between protesters and police.

Yanukovych's former chief of staff was wounded by gunfire and hospitalized on Monday, his spokesman told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Artem Petrenko also confirmed that Klyuyev resigned his post a day before the shooting. Klyuyev was among the figures most despised by protesters in Ukraine's three-month political turmoil.

For months, thousands of people have been protesting against Yanukovych's decision to ditch an agreement for closer ties with the European Union and turn to Russia instead.

The parliament sacked some of Yanukovych's lieutenants and named their replacement, but it has yet to appoint the new premier and fill all remaining government posts. Yanukovych's whereabouts are unknown. He was last reportedly seen in the Crimea, a pro-Russia area.

The European Union's top foreign policy official urged Ukraine's new government to work out a reform program so that the West could consider financial aid to the country's battered economy.

Catherine Ashton spoke on Tuesday after meeting with the leaders of Ukraine's interim authorities formed after President Viktor Yanukvoych fled the capital.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a top figure in the protests, suggested that Yanukvoych should be tried in the Hague, Netherlands.

Protesters, meanwhile, removed a Soviet star from the top of the Ukrainian parliament building, the Verkhovna Rada. "The star on top of the Verkhovna Rada is no longer there," said Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the nationalist Svoboda party, which has been a strong force in the protest movement.

Meanwhile, a campaign for May 25 presidential elections was launched Tuesday, with Yanukovych's archrival former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko widely seen as a top contender for the post. She was freed from prison on Saturday after spending 2 ½ years there. Her lawyer said, however, that she hasn't yet declared whether to run.

Turchinov moved quickly to open a dialogue with the West, saying at a meeting with Ashton on Monday that the course toward closer integration with Europe and financial assistance from the EU were "key factors of stable and democratic development of Ukraine."

Turchinov told Ashton on Monday that Ukraine and the EU should immediately revisit the closer ties that Yanukovych abandoned in November in favor of a $15 billion bailout loan from Russia that set off a wave of protests. Within weeks, the protests expanded to include outrage over corruption and human rights abuses, leading to calls for Yanukovych's resignation.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has strongly condemned the new authorities, saying Monday they came to power as a result of an "armed mutiny" and their legitimacy is causing "big doubts." ''If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government," Medvedev said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the West for turning a blind eye to what Moscow described as the opposition reneging on an agreement signed Friday to form a unity government and aiming to "suppress dissent in various regions of Ukraine with dictatorial and, sometimes, even terrorist methods."

Although Russia has questioned the interim authorities' legitimacy, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly referred to Turchinov as the "interim president."

NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, Gen. Philip Breedlove, discussed Ukraine with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia's armed forces, on Monday and they agreed to keep each other informed about developments in the country.

Tensions, meanwhile, have been mounting in Crimea in southern Ukraine. Russia maintains a large naval base in Sevastopol that has strained relations between the countries for two decades. Pro-Russian protesters gathered in front of city hall in the port of Sevastopol on Monday chanting "Russia! Russia!"

The head of the city administration in Sevastopol quit Monday amid the turmoil, and protesters replaced a Ukrainian flag near the city hall building with a Russian flag.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's position on the turmoil in Ukraine will be crucial to the future of Crimea and Ukraine. In recent days, Putin has spoken to President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders to discuss the Ukrainian crisis.

On Tuesday, Putin summoned top security officials to discuss the situation in Ukraine, but no details of the meeting were released by the Kremlin.

The current protest movement in Ukraine has been in large part a fight for the country's economic future.

Ukraine has a large potential consumer market, an educated workforce, a significant industrial base and good natural resources, in particular rich farmland. Yet its economy is in tatters due to corruption, bad government and short-sighted reliance on cheap gas from Russia.

The public deficit is rising and the economy may be back in recession. The government burned through about a tenth of its $17.8 billion in foreign reserves last month to support the currency, which has fallen 6 percent since the protests began.

Ukraine's acting finance minister said the country needs $35 billion (25.5 billion euros) to finance government needs this year and next and expressed hope for rapid Western help.

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YourFtr February 26 2014 at 2:48 AM

Even if we can't foot the Ukraine's whole deficeit; Obama ought to provide some financial help in some way for the Ukraine.

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YourFtr February 26 2014 at 2:38 AM

"Ok and I know a former US president that invaded a whole country without a reason....you do not need to be a dictator to be ruthless. "

Was that Lyndon Johnson who invaded Vietnam and then lost the war Politically; then had to come on TV and say "I'm not running for re-election; because I've Lost the War !!?"

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SKCRCPUSCG February 26 2014 at 12:59 AM

One can expect mother Russia to write the final chapter to this story... and I don't think it will be very romantic.

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lemko2 February 26 2014 at 12:13 AM

Need to find Yanukovych? Ask his EU friends or Rossian Communists, where are they hiding him.

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Denny February 25 2014 at 6:34 PM

We can do little else but support the people of the Ukraine who wish to be free. If that means making sure there economy is stable then we need to do that as well. We need to work with Russia and our European allies. It will take alot of diplomacy but I feel it can be done.

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spokajo February 25 2014 at 5:25 PM

Now that they got what they want, they don't have the slightest idea what to do. We can't just pour in $35 Billion to some unstable government that is not an elected government. But you watch, Obama in his haste to look like some sort of world leader (which he's not) will jump right in and give billions of our taxpayer's money to help bail out their mess.

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frozenbull February 25 2014 at 4:14 PM

Does anyone think that this whole thing is going to go smoothly. Putin's warming up the tanks as we speak.... or write .

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Joe February 25 2014 at 6:11 PM

How would we react to a Russian-backed anti-American coup in Mexico?

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wrestfemal February 25 2014 at 1:20 PM

Within the next few days demonstations will occur in ethnically Russian Eastern and Southern Ukraine. Whether they will be spontaneous or orchestrated the end result will be the same: they will serve as a pretext to divideUkraine along ethnic lines. Seventeen million ethnic Russians will not be allowed to escape Putin's grasp. And just like the brief war with Georgia in 2008 the world will stand aside as they are presented with this failt accompli.

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frozenbull February 25 2014 at 4:15 PM

Right RIght Right

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Dannie February 25 2014 at 12:22 PM

Putin will decide it is Russia's best interest to take over country and Obama and company will just stop feet and pout, then blaim Republicans and Bush

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frozenbull February 25 2014 at 4:20 PM

Well you don't think he's going to take the heat, do you ? Bush will be six feet under and still be getting blamed for things not going our way . That's what happens when you have a president who travels around the world apologizing for the US .

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doctoredit February 25 2014 at 12:20 PM

I think the U;S. better keep its nose out of this mess until, well after getting clear of Afghanistan, if ever. America has been at war 25 years, somewhere, or nearing 75 years ...if you count sponsoring Kuwait, Iraq, Central America revolutions since the 1980's, Viet Nam, the Cold War, Marshall Plan years, Occupied Berlin, East Germany, Korea, WWII; They all kind of bleed together ******* America's body, blood & money to the verge of catastropic drought.

I'm 72 & war weary beyond description. Let Great Britian, France & Germany with the Eu figure this one out and do the bleeding. Africa has China hooked into its politics because of land & minerals it desperately needs to feed its billions.

This country has more than it can handle in the Middle East and pan Asia (Korea): Sooner or later Israel is going to create a nuclear situation.

Russia's re-emergence as an Imperist driven foce in search of re-establishing an empire is going to come knocking soon enough. If we get involved facing off with Russia over the Caucuses & China hooks up with Russia with conquering the West in mind and recapturing debts ... ; There's a certain nuclear war in the making: NO winners in such a scenario--only losers.

I sure hope the Pentagon has got robots in the closet to go with those drones to use in the Middle East. TINY, in the field nukes are rapidly becoming a need

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1 reply to doctoredit's comment
soulshine816 February 25 2014 at 12:49 PM

Doctoredit for President !
We need someone like you in office who knows the
situation and not trying just to make their pockets fat
while our men and women die for their blood money.

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~~ 2592000


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