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Ukraine' future still ambiguous

Updated: 2014-02-24 03:30
( Xinhua)

KIEV - A feeling of political uncertainty still haunted Ukrainians Sunday, although the country's lawmakers ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and appointed the parliament's speaker as interim president following more than three months of violent protests.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian lawmakers voted to hand over the duties of president to Oleksandr Turchynov in accordance with the country's newly-established constitution.

The parliament's move came one day after the lawmakers ousted Yanukovych from his post and set early elections for May 25.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a bitter rival of Yanukovych, also came back to the spotlight as she turned herself up Saturday on the Independence Square and addressed anti-government protesters, soon after she was freed from jail.

The dramatic changes could not only be a turning point, but also fuel fears of more domestic conflicts and an eventual breakup for the East European country, which is deeply divided between east regions that are largely pro-Russian and west areas that widely detest Yanukovych and long for closer ties with the European Union.

On the Independence Square, where dozens of people were killed this week in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, residents laid flowers on shrines to the victims, some crying as they looked at their photos or at shields dotted with bullet holes.

On Sunday morning, thousands of people listened to speeches and prayers for last week's victims. Men were still wandering around with clubs in hand and wearing homemade body armour, helmets and in some cases ski masks and camouflage fatigues.

The Kiev transportation system resumed work Sunday. People lined up at metro entrances and bus stations to reach the Independence Square.

On No. 16 bus, 60-year-old Vladimir said his son had been injured in recent clashes and was hospitalized. "I've come to mourn his dead fellows," he said.

Knowing Yanukovych has left Kiev, the retired engineer said: "He should be brought to justice and imprisoned."

Alexandr, a college student majored in law, said he has been watching the situation closely.

"There are good people now in parliament, and there are also bad ones," he said, "They cannot represent all of us."

Inside the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine, right beside the Independence Square, several middle aged women were cleaning up the marble stairs while a young lady was playing the piano on the second floor, where dozens of protesters were camping.

Elena, a high school teacher, told Xinhua that Ukraine has just made the very first step toward democracy. As for the early presidential elections, she said: "The only person now I can think of is Tymoshenko."

Meanwhile, tensions reportedly mounted in the Black Sea area of Crimea, officially an autonomous republic of Ukraine, where pro-Russian politicians are organizing rallies and forming protest units and have been demanding autonomy from Kiev.

With pro-EU protesters still controlling central Kiev, and with crowds on the streets in other towns and cities, parliament is under pressure to demonstrate its authority across the nation and to calm fears of a split with pro-Russian regional leaders in the fallen president's east political base.

"In these days the most important thing is to form a functioning government," Vitaly Klitschko, an opposition leader and former world boxing champion, told reporters.

"We have to take very important steps in order to ensure the survival of the economy, which is in a very bad shape," he said.

On the Independence Square, some tents have been dismantled, but many people said they would go on holding the area until a new president was in place.

"We'll stay here to the very end," said a man who only gave his first name as Bohdan. "We will be here till there's a new president. We want to be the masters of our own homeland."

Another man said there were separatists who might divide the country. "There are people who want to split the country into two. We will not allow this to happen. We will go wherever we have to and fight to keep the country united."