Ukraine’s new interim president is promising to chart a course toward European integration, now that Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych has been ousted.
Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Turchynov, a longtime ally of opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, spoke Sunday, just hours after being elevated to the presidency in a parliamentary vote.
Turchynov also said the new government wants to build relations with Russia on what he called “a new and fair partnership of good neighborly relations.” He has promised a new government by Tuesday, and lawmakers have called for new elections on May 25.
Russia — a strong backer of the ousted president — said Sunday it has recalled its ambassador to Kyiv for consultations on what it says is “the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.” A Russian Foreign Ministry statement cited a need for “a comprehensive analysis” of developments in Kyiv.
The whereabouts of Mr. Yanukovych remained unclear one day after he fled Kyiv for his support base in the country’s east.
Opposition party leader Vitali Klitschko said Sunday the ousted leader should take full responsibility for the chaos in Kyiv that has resulted in the deaths of about 100 anti-government protesters in the past two weeks.
Mr. Yanukovych appeared on Sunday to be losing the support of his former allies, with his Party of Regions issuing a statement Sunday blaming him for the surge of deadly violence that wracked the capital in recent weeks.
Party leader Oleksander Yefremov said “Ukraine has been betrayed and its people put against each other. …All responsibility for this lies with Yanukovych,” he said.
In other developments, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday for talks with key players and to discuss measures to stabilize the economy.
Protests erupted in November when Mr. Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties to Russia. The protests began peacefully, but descended into violence.
Ukraine is split between those in the east who favor ties with Russia, and those in the West who lean toward the European Union.
The United States and European allies have warned Russia not to send forces into Ukraine.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice told NBC’s Meet The Press that it would be a “grave mistake” for Russia to intervene militarily.
Ukrainian protesters took control of President Yanukovych’s offices in Kyiv Saturday. Others let themselves onto the grounds of the president’s lavish but secret estate outside Kyiv, which includes a private zoo, and toured his house. Some say they are stunned that one person could have so much while others in Ukraine have nothing.