Ukraine in political limbo as it puts off vote for new govt

With the ousted president on the run, Ukraine's parliament put off plans to vote on the formation of a national unity government until Thursday to allow consultations to continue.

 Ukraine in political limbo as it puts off vote for new govt

Ukraine has been in the grips of violence for the last three months. The violence culminated in the ousting of former President Victor Yanukovych. AFP.

"The vote on the national unity government should be on Thursday," Oleksander Turchinov, the speaker of the assembly and the acting president, told the chamber. The vote had been expected to take place during Tuesday's session.

Ukraine was set to unveil a new prime minister and cabinet even as top Western envoys rushed to Kiev to try to find a lasting solution to the crisis rocking the country.

Turchinov will meet law enforcement agencies to discuss what he described as "dangerous signs of separatism" in some regions following the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich as president. Some members of parliament have warned that Ukraine could be split because of concerns about Yanukovich's ouster in Russian-speaking regions in the east and south of the country.

Ukraine has appealed to the West for $35 billion in aid to avoid default as the nation tilts away from Russia, following the weekend ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych after days of carnage in Kiev left almost 100 dead.

Yanukovych has since been slapped with an arrest warrant for "mass murder", capping more than three months of relentless protests against his rule sparked by his November decision to spurn an historic pact with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia.

On Tuesday, the electoral commission said the campaign for presidential polls set for 25 May had officially kicked off, though who exactly will stand for the top post remains to be seen.

Names commonly put forward include protest leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a pro-EU former foreign and economy minister; Yulia Tymoshenko, the freed opposition leader and hero of the 2004 Orange Revolution; Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate baron; and Vitali Klitschko a world heavyweight boxing champion-turned-politician.

Russia miffed

The political and financial crises rocking Ukraine have seen the nation of 46 million face the dire threat of splintering between its pro-Western, Ukrainian-speaking agrarian west and the Russian-speaking industrialised south and east.

Russia's foreign ministry on Monday strongly criticised the new Western-leaning leadership in Ukraine, saying it was restricting "the humanitarian rights of Russians."

"They have set a course to suppress those who do not agree in various regions of Ukraine using dictatorial and sometimes even terrorist methods," the ministry said in a statement.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also issued a firm response by condemning the "armed mutiny" in Ukraine. "The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

"Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise," Medvedev said. "This is some kind of (an) aberration."

Russia's vocal displeasure at the changes convulsing its neighbour has translated into fears that a much-needed $15-billion bailout from Moscow announced in December may be abandoned after only one payment of $3 billion came through.

The crisis in Ukraine also helped fuel a rise in oil prices Monday, with analysts saying an angry Russia could halt natural gas supplies as it has done in the past.

"The threat and uncertainty surrounding Ukraine has Europe slowing exports of oil and products as they fear they may need them if they have to use them to offset the loss of Russian gas," said Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group.

AFP with inputs from Reuters

Updated Date: Feb 25, 2014 17:58:36 IST