Ukraine Protests: Parliament Votes to Oust President Viktor Yanukovich, Sets May Election

Ukraine’s parliament voted to oust President Yanukocich and set early elections in May.

Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich and set a date of early elections on May, 25. Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/Flickr

After three months of street protests Ukraine President was removed by the parliament, while ex prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko urged opposition demonstrators to stay in an emotional address in Kiev after she was released from jail.

President Yanukovich left the capital of the country to the opposition on Saturday and described the latest events as a coup. Meanwhile supporters cheered Yanukovich’s rival Tymoshenko as she left the hospital where she had been held. When she spoke later in Kiev, her reception was mixed.

Showing glimpses of the fiery oratory that drove her to power, Tymoshenko shouted: “This is a Ukraine of different people. The ones who died on Maidan are our liberators, our heroes for centuries.”

Timoshenko’s release marks a significant transformation of the 46-million country. Removal of the pro-Russian Yanukovich is expected to move Ukraine away from Moscow’s orbit and closer to Europe.

“We are ready to engage in substantial financial assistance for Ukraine once a political solution, based on democratic principles, is finalized and once there is a new government which is genuinely and seriously engaged in institutional and economic reforms,” said EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn.

Members of the Ukrainian parliament, who set new elections on late spring, applauded and sang the national anthem after declaring Yanukovich constitutionally unable to carry out his duties.

“This is a political knockout,” opposition leader and retired world boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko told the local media.

In his recent interview with Kharkiv journalists Yanukovich said he had no intention to resign or leave the country, and called decisions by parliament “illegal”.

“The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d’etat,” he said, comparing it to the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany in the 1930s.

With protesters still controlling central part of Kiev, and their fellows on the streets in other major Ukranian towns and cities, parliament is now forced to demonstrate its authority across the nation and to calm fears of a split with pro-Russian regional leaders in the fallen president’s eastern political base.

“In these days the most important thing is to form a functioning government,” said Vitaly Klitschko. “We have to take very important steps in order to ensure the survival of the economy, which is in a very bad shape,” he told a news conference. He also declined to describe the clashes as a coup.

“Parliament is the last legal official institution in Ukraine,” he explained. “Nobody knows where the president of Ukraine is. We tried to find him all day yesterday. His location is unknown. He left the country without a president.”

Even the president’s Party of the Regions seems to have given up on the leader with whom Moscow had last week appeared to be losing patience.

“The changes that have happened, have happened. It’s already done,” said Tatyana Bakhteyeva, a parliamentarian from Yanukovich’s home region of Donetsk.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “illegal extremist groups are refusing to disarm and in fact are taking Kiev under their control with the connivance of opposition leaders”.

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