|Ukrainian new Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk delivers a speech at the parliament in Kiev, capital of Ukraine, on Feb. 27, 2014. Ukraine's parliament on Thursday approved Arseny Yatsenyuk as the country's new prime minister. (Xinhua/Jia Yuchen) |
KIEV, Feb. 27 -- A new cabinet in favor of anchoring Ukraine in the West emerged Thursday with a tough mandate to steer the country away from a looming economic collapse and find a way to mend its division.
Arseny Yatsenyuk, one of the prominent figures leading the anti- government protests to demand the country's European integration, was named as the new Prime Minister. The 39-year-old politician, economist and lawyer, had served as economy minister, foreign minister, and parliament speaker between 2005 and 2008.
The parliament appointed Vitaly Yarema of the Fatherland Party to be the first deputy prime minister.
Meanwhile, far-right politician Alexandr Such, businessman Vladimir Groysman and former Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk were named deputy prime ministers.
Describing the members of the new cabinet as "political kamikaze," Yatsenyuk said the main task of his government is to lift Ukraine's economy, stay on the course toward European integration and preserve the territorial integrity of the state amid a separatism threat.
On Thursday, armed groups seized local government and parliament buildings in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in southern Ukraine and raised Russian flags over them, triggering a separatist rebellion that could tear the country apart.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is teetering on the brink of economic free fall. The former Soviet country with a projected budget deficit of 4.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for 2014 and the lowest level of foreign exchange reserves in 8 years, is in urgent need of loans to make its debt payments, which has amounted to 17. 4 billion dollars this year.
Ukraine's new Finance Minister Alexandr Shlapack said here Thursday that his country had submitted a request for financial support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and hoped the international lender could send a mission to work on a new aid package,
"We already submitted a request to the IMF asking to send a mission. We hope the IMF team will arrive here next week," Shlapack told reporters, adding that Kiev is ready to fulfill the IMF requirements needed to get the bailout which would be less than 15 billion U.S. dollars.
In response to Kiev's request, IMF agreed Thursday to send a fact-finding team next week to the country, where a political upheaval has dealt a severe blow to its economy.
"This will enable the IMF to make its usual technical, independent assessment of the economic situation in Ukraine and, at the same time, begin to discuss with the authorities the policy reforms that could form the basis of a Fund-supported program," said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Meanwhile, ousted President Viktor Yanukovych denounced that all parliament's decisions approved in recent days were illegal.
"I still believe myself to be the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state elected in a free vote by Ukrainian citizens," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
He urged that the situation in his country should return to the "constitutional field" and insisted the crisis settlement deal reached with the opposition last Friday has not been fulfilled.
In a tit-to-tat response to Yanukovych's words, Yatsenyuk said the ouster of Yanukovych was legal. "He is no longer the president; he is a wanted person who is suspected of mass murder, a crime against humanity."
Yanukovych, whom the Ukrainian opposition declared as self- removed from power following months of unrest in Ukraine, also admitted he has asked the Russian authorities to ensure his personal security. The exact whereabouts of Yanukovych has remained unknown since Saturday.
The appearance of the dismissed president on the Ukrainian political scene has caused concern that the political crisis in the Eastern European country may escalate, as some Ukrainians were disappointed by the ouster of Yanukovych.