KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s interim leaders on Wednesday presented their candidates for a transitional government to a crowd of several thousand gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square, who applauded and cheered each name.
Proposed for the key post of prime minister was former foreign minister, economist and lawyer Arseny Yatsenyuk, second in command in Orange Revolution leader Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party and a leading figure in the uprising against President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled the capital last week.
Two other prominent opposition figures were not among the nominations to lead the country until a May 25 presidential election and a vote for a new parliament in the summer. Vitali Klitschko announced Tuesday that he will be running for president, and Oleg Tyagnibok is also expected to declare his candidacy.
The opposition-controlled parliament is expected to formally approve the new Cabinet on Thursday.
“It is a real government of popular trust,” said Igor Popov, head of Kiev’s Politika Analytical Center. “There is not a single name on the list associated in any way with Yanukovich's regime.”
Consultations continue about two undecided posts, the ministers of defense and infrastructure, said Popov, who is close to the opposition leadership.
Many of the proposed candidates are heroes of the uprising against Yanukovich.
The crowd gathered in Independence Square roared its approval when Andriy Parubiy, who headed a protesters self-defense force, was proposed to lead the National Security Council, which oversees the country’s armed forces and police.
The candidates also included Dmitry Bulatov, head of the so-called Automaidan, a group of vehicle owners who supported protesters by acting as scouts and saboteurs.
At one point in December, hundreds of motorists surrounded riot police who were laying siege to the protest camp in Independence Square and honked their horns all night.
In January, Bulatov was taken captive by unknown assailants who tortured him and sliced off one of his ears before dumping him in a forest, according to his organization.
Tatyana Chornovol, a crusading journalist who was beaten by presumed government agents, is expected to lead the anti-corruption agency.
The only candidate that some protesters might find fault with is Yuri Prodan, who was minister of oil and energy when Ukraine signed a natural gas deal with Russia that many felt put the country at a disadvantage.
“On paper it is the most ideal government Ukraine has ever had,” said Popov. “Let's see what they can do in reality, with so many challenges Ukraine is facing today, beginning with its faltering economy.”