Ukrainian protesters and some MPs tell new leaders not to rush changes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 12:08am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 12:08am

The interim leaders of Ukraine stepped on the brakes as they faced resistance from street protesters and some members of parliament, who objected that they were moving too fast in forming a new cabinet just days after the old regime collapsed.

New ministers for every department were supposed to be in place by the end of Tuesday. But strenuous protests from the Maidan, the city's main square that was still populated with demonstrators, about a lack of input has forced the leaders of parliament to wait at least until today, despite European worries that Ukraine needs to move quickly to get its financial house in order.

Members of the parliament, or Verkhovna Rada, complained that the speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, was pushing bills through with little regard for debate or transparency, much as his predecessor had railroaded a package of repressive laws through the parliament in January, in an act that set off violent clashes between hardline protesters and police.

Officials in Moscow continued on Tuesday to express displeasure with events in Ukraine, if not as harshly as the day before. One bill that flew through the Rada on Monday downgraded the status of Russian as an official language, which struck critics as an unnecessary and incendiary move, and which opened Ukraine's new authorities to criticism from their larger neighbour.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, tweeted on Tuesday: "We want to curtail the influence of radicals and nationalists who are trying to play first fiddle in Ukraine."

Moscow argues that the Ukrainian protests have been taken over by extremists. But on the Maidan, there were strong fears that the revolution was being sold out. Activists were unhappy with the roster of veteran politicians being mentioned for top posts in a new government.