Ukraine's acting leader still seeking consensus


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KIEV, Ukraine -- Hoping to reach a consensus that would heal some of Ukraine's wounds, the country's acting president on Tuesday delayed the seating of an interim government for at least two days, even as opposition colleagues appealed to the Hague international criminal tribunal to put fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych on trial for crimes against humanity.

Reports of mounting discord among ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and gunshot wounds suffered by a top aide to Mr. Yanukovych further heightened a sense that threats to Ukraine's stability abound as politicians jockey ahead of a May 25 presidential election.

A multiparty transitional leadership had been expected to be announced Tuesday. But acting President Olexander Turchynov told lawmakers that it would take until at least Thursday to get consensus on a Cabinet that would have the entire nation's trust.

Visiting European Union diplomats urged those steering Ukraine through its current power vacuum to include deputies of Mr. Yanukovych's Party of Regions, which has been decimated by defections to the opposition and lawmakers retreating to home territory for fear of retribution at the hands of their Western-leaning adversaries. "It needs to be inclusive," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said of the elusive Cabinet in comments to reporters after two days of talks in Kiev.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin assembled his national security team for a Kremlin caucus on the turmoil in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that Moscow has dominated for centuries. Russia-24 television showed the top advisers gathering but gave no details about their deliberations. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later said during a Moscow news conference that Russia would refrain from interfering in Ukraine's domestic crisis and expected other countries to do likewise.

Ukraine's industries and economy are dependent on components and trade with Russian companies, and Russia's Black Sea naval fleet is based in the port of Sevastopol, now part of Ukraine. Most of the eastern half of Ukraine had voted for Mr. Yanukovych and supported his decision late last year to continue strengthening ties with Russia, rather than entering into an EU association agreement.

Though Russian officials have made disparaging remarks about those now running Ukraine's government, Mr. Putin has said little about how he expects the power struggle and fight over Ukraine's future to play out.

Mr. Lavrov seemed to be conveying a Kremlin message that it was taking a hands-off approach, while watching to see what leadership emerges from talks underway in Kiev. "We have confirmed our principled position to not interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs and expect all [foreign powers] to follow a similar logic," he said.

Little was immediately clear about the circumstances in which Mr. Yanukovych's former chief of staff, Andriy Klyuyev, was wounded Monday. Klyuyev spokesman Artem Petrenko said Mr. Klyuyev had resigned his post with Mr. Yanukovych and was driving to Kiev when he was shot. "He was not hiding, but on the contrary, he was returning to Kiev because he is innocent of the crimes attributed now to Yanukovych and other state officials," Mr. Petrenko said.

Political analysts worry that an atmosphere of revenge is developing, as opposition forces who suffered under Mr. Yanukovych's corrupt and repressive regime hunt those responsible for the deadly culmination of a three-month confrontation over whether to stay economically aligned with Moscow or turn toward the EU.

"With the post-Soviet statehood of Ukraine all but collapsed, people driven by vengeance don't want to wait for the state to re-emerge from the ruins to bring the former officials to justice," said Vadim Karasyov, head of the Institute of Global Strategies in Kiev. "Summary trials are taking place in the street, and the situation has the potential to aggravate until a compromise is found between the new authorities and the people."

The parliament passed a measure Tuesday seeking trial by the International Criminal Court of those suspected of ordering the use of force against demonstrators, the UNIAN news agency reported. At least 82 died last week when police and security forces used clubs, stun guns, tear gas and snipers against protesters. Besides Mr. Yanukovych, the appeal named former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and former Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko.

Tuesday saw the presidential election campaigning start. Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, an opposition leader, and Mikhail Dobkin, the pro-Russian governor of the eastern Ukrainian industrial region of Kharkiv, announced that they would run. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Mr. Yanukovych's longtime rival who was freed from prison Saturday, is also known to be contemplating a run.


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