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Ukraine's Tymoshenko refuses PM post

Kiev, February 23, 2014

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison guard on Saturday after her arch-rival President Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev, said on Sunday she did not want to be considered for the post of prime minister.

Earlier, her supporters in parliament said she was one of the three favourites to be named to head a government of national unity.

"It was a surprise for me when I heard that I was being proposed for the post of prime minister. Nobody agreed this with me or discussed it with me.

"I am grateful for the respect this shows, but I ask not to be considered for this post," she said in comments on her website.

Her comments suggested that Tymoshenko - who was narrowly defeated by Yanukovich for the presidency in February 2010 and was later jailed in 2011 for abuse of office as prime minister - may be eying another run to be head of state.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's new rulers, just 24 hours after ousting President Viktor Yanukovich, began speedily to unstitch his power structure on Sunday, appointing a provisional leader to replace him and sacking his key ministers.

At an emergency parliament session, they worked at breakneck pace to dismantle the coterie of ministers and cronies he had gathered around him since coming to power in 2010.

Yanukovich remained at an undisclosed location somewhere in eastern Ukraine, still protesting against the "bandits terrorising the country" and declaring himself a legitimate president who had fallen victim to a coup d'etat.

But with defections from his Party of the Regions now swelling opposition ranks in parliament, opposition deputies found no difficulty in parliament in pushing through decisions that took to pieces the political house he had built.

Oleksander Turchinov, who was earlier given the duties of speaker, was temporarily handed the role of president - a particularly bitter pill for the fugitive Yanukovich since Turchinov is a confidant of his arch-rival Tymoshenko.

Yanukovich's foreign minister, Leonid Kozhara, who defended his boss's swerve away from the European Union in the face of an outcry in the West, was one of the first to go.

Education Minister Dmitry Tabachnik, an unpopular figure accused by many of bringing a pro-Russia interpretation of Ukrainian history to school primers, quickly followed.

Law enforcement bodies and leading figures were particularly targeted because of their involvement in clashes with protesters that killed at least 82 people before Yanukovich fled Kiev.

Interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko - a hate figure for the protest movement - was stripped of his post on Friday and, like others, has gone into hiding.

When the new police and security chiefs took the rostrum on Sunday they announced orders for the detention of Yanukovich's incomes minister Oleksander Klimenko - a particularly close ally - and his prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka.

Pshonka has been identified with the prosecution of Tymoshenko, which ended with her being jailed in 2011 to seven years for abuse of power as prime minister.

Parliament heard that Pshonka and Klimenko had initially been detained at an airport in the eastern town of Donetsk but escaped after armed men entered the VIP lounge and began shooting.

"An investigation has been opened and an investigating-operational group is working for the detention of these people to bring them to trial," said Oleh Makhnytsky, acting prosecutor general.

Under pressure, too, from the Maidan - the name given now to the protest movement that brought Yanukovich down - the new leaders said police and others who had shot at people or given orders to shoot would be brought to book. - Reuters
 




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