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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.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
fernandezarthr February 25 2014 at 9:21 AM

....Death to the Communist Dictator Tyrant,.........jail time for all those Police Thugs that Fired and Killed, Freedom Fighters,........Long Live Freedom and Democracy,......the Power of the People, for the People, by the People,.............This concept is the basic Democratic Idea that this President and all of this other Tyrants from around the World, the people IS the Government!,.....Now Do As The People say Not as You Want to Do,.........It is The People NOT YOU Mr President,...........Do as WE WANT NOT as YOU WANT!!.................

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2 replies
lo colon fernandezarthr February 25 2014 at 9:32 AM

Ya think that former KGB Colonel got the message? Ol' Putin is about as popular as a backed up commode.

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Jeff195988 fernandezarthr February 25 2014 at 9:49 AM

Alas, Fernand, do as "we" super, unseen, diabolical self proclaimed super elites -they're not all- will tell you to do, and you People will be so dumb, that you will want to believe us. A "tyrant" is generally unrecognized. The minute that he or she becomes so well recognized, is when another tyrant, either as bad or even worse, is ready to move in.

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vietnamvet1967 February 25 2014 at 11:18 AM

OK Kids, hold on to tyour wallet, Obama wants to help them, because we mean nothing to him
Egypt, Libya, and the rest worked so well for him
These so called peace protestors, are nothing but thugs, they started it with fire bombs, and bricks
so everythime they do not like who they elect , just protest to get him or her out of office
another great country, YEA SURE

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filudo February 25 2014 at 10:48 AM

The courage of the Ukrainian people has to be admired. They are the ones that are making the changes that Ukraine needs. Politicians are where they are because people put them there, therefore they are supposed to work for the benefit of the people and not their own benefit. To see the Palace where the Ukrainian President was enjoying while the people is struggling to survive is shameful.

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spike February 25 2014 at 11:14 AM

There are those among us who would prefer destroying America ,to democratic elections. Installing their own form of totalitarian government in place of representative democracy.
Everyone of you are blessed to live in this country.You might try being thankful instead of bellyaching all the time.America is not perfect,but I can name dozens of countries that are less so.

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1 reply
showmetoasty spike February 25 2014 at 11:36 AM

Part of the reason many live in this country... Because they have the right to bellyache. Freedom of speech and Expression.

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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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1 reply
frozenbull Dannie 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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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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1 reply
frozenbull wrestfemal February 25 2014 at 4:15 PM

Right RIght Right

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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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Jeff195988 February 25 2014 at 9:45 AM

This all has an air of Deja Vu. Major Revolutions before, hungry for revenge, and scapegoating, were often at least as awful as the regimes which they had toppled. One famous such case is the catastrophic French Revolution, which, under the guise of "fighting for the People", manipulated the masses glacially, making them mad with hate, drunk on temporary limitless power, in order to make those persons perform the murders calmly decided by unseen others, for the sake of their own power of course. Former President Yanukovich did not have much of a choice. Really, he was acted, both by History on the move, and by the usual glacial world calculators of how they had decided in which direction Humankind should be steered. The former President has become the scapegoat, like Louis XVIth before him, or the last Tsar, and alas, many others before. This provokes great anguish in me, with regards to the Future of poor Ukraine, who has been tortured, willingly, for centuries.

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bryanmerrittper2 February 25 2014 at 9:38 AM

Old Glad Putin would sure like to get his filthy lunch grabbers on the Ukraine and he will because no one has the balls to stop him. Under Obama we are less than a paper tiger and now he wants to cut back our military to what it was in the 1940's. Hell Putin is probably making deals with Obama right now to sell him America. He once said on an open mic that after he got re elected he would be able to make them a better deal.

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1 reply
itbloo bryanmerrittper2 February 25 2014 at 10:09 AM

From what I've read and heard, Rumsfeld wanted to do exactly what is trying to get done now, but Bush's and Cheny's escalations in the Middle East put a kibosh on his plan.

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rtgarton February 25 2014 at 9:26 AM

You have to feel sorry for these people. Its got to be one of the most depressing places on the planet.

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