Ukraine: Interim Government Looks Toward Elections, Economic Future


Minirobot / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Ukraine's bloodiest week is over and the country is now figuring out how to move forward both politically and economically.

The opposition is acting quickly to institute change. As Reason's Ed Krayewski highlights, the parliament–dominated by the opposition, since many members of of the ruling party have either fled or defected–has voted to oust President Viktor Yanukovych and charge him with crimes related to mass killings. The president abandoned his mansion this weekend and is reportedly on the run, though he has refused to officially resign.

The parliament has set May 25 as election day for his successor. Who will be on the ballots?

The Central Election Commission announced that the official nomination process begins tomorrow, but likely candidates include Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and one of Yanukovych's political opponents, who was released from prison this weekend. Oleksandr Turchynov, "a close confident of Yulia Tymoshenko," according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFEL), was overwhelmingly approved as interim president and may want to remain in power. Boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko and several others have led the opposition in the streets and have previously expressed interest in running.

Equally important to normalizing Ukraine's politcal situation is mending its economy.

The country has been ailing for years. As Reason has previously covered, Ukraine was set to enter an association deal with the European Union, which citizens saw as a sign of financial salvation. But, in November Yanukovych dashed this hope in favor of a $15 billion package of loans and energy subsidies from Russia, sparking protests.

The interim government will need $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default, according to Bloomberg News.

Russia is hesitant about moving forward with its deal. Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev describes Ukraine's current leadership as "Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks," and says that Russia will resume negotiations once a "normal, modern government" is established. The Los Angeles Times reports that "Russia's finance minister says Ukraine should seek [International Monetary Fund] help, a signal that Moscow may be unwilling to provide aid if a pro-Western government is in place."

So, Ukraine is turning to the west. Interfax-Ukraine details that "Turchynov insisted that the E.U. immediately resume talks with Ukraine on an association agreement whose provisions would include a comprehensive free trade zone and liberalized visa regime between Ukraine and the E.U.," and that European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton believes "financial help from the E.U. is essential" to the nation's future. The interim president also plans to organize an international donor conference and hopes the U.S. will participate.

For more Reason coverage of Ukraine's revolution, click here