A gathering of local MPs from the Euro-skeptic east and south of Ukraine has gathered in the city of Kharkov to form a joint response to the developing collapse of the national government.
Sevastopol city council gave the go-ahead for the creation of the executive committee, which will take over administrative functions. The unanimous vote of all 49 MPs present appointed Aleksey Chaly to become the chairman of the committee.
“There will be no revolution, I'm all for evolution,” Chaly said after being appointed as interim head of the city council. “We will restructure,” he added.
Amidst the chaos that has gripped Ukraine, over 20,000 people gathered in the streets of Sevastopol on Sunday calling on local authorities to protect the city from “revolutionaries.” Those at the gathering elected businessman Aleksey Chaly as their new mayor and refused to disperse until local MPs recognized their choice.
Home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol is the only city in the country that does not elect its mayor directly, and has not done so since 1992.
Former Mayor Vladimir Yatsuba resigned and left the Party of Regions on Sunday after meeting with Chaly and agreeing that the issue of power transfer would be decided at the city council session.
The presidential election campaign in Ukraine will reportedly start on February 25, the country's Central Election Commission said.
“The campaign will start automatically, based on the parliament decree, which set the date for the election on May 25. This is why the commission will not announce the start of the campaign at its session on Monday,” the commission's press service told Interfax-Ukraine.
Ukraine's new parliament speaker, Aleksandr Turchinov, has told the deputies to agree on the formation of a national unity government by Tuesday, Interfax reported.
"I instruct the heads of factions and groups to immediately begin consultations to form a new parliamentary majority and create a government of national trust," he said on Sunday.
Sixty-four protesters, detained during this week’s riots in downtown Kiev, have been released, Itar-Tass reported. Three more demonstrators will be freed on Monday, according to one of the leaders of opposition, the newly elected Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, from the oppositional Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party.
Nearly 3,000 people have gathered in Kharkov, a city in north-eastern Ukraine, to take part in a rally aiming to defend the local statue of Lenin. Participants of the event booed opposition television stations correspondents, asking them to leave the site immediately. Police officers are currently patrolling the area.
Meanwhile in Kharkov, a few thousand opposition supporters – both locals and from other parts of the country – are trying to demolish Lenin’s statue, the head of the Russian parliamentary commission on foreign affairs, Aleksey Pushkov, wrote on Twitter.
Around 3,000 people are taking part in demonstrations in Kharkov, Ukraine, ITAR-TASS quoted the city’s director of communications and information, Yuri Sidorenko, as saying. “Currently there about 3,000 taking part in the protest. One of the city's main streets has been closed off and there is lots of traffic.”
“The decisions taken here are positive and concrete. What is important is that everything voiced here was implemented in the interests of the Ukrainian people and the entire Ukraine. What Ukraine needs now is common sense and a survival instinct,” said Evgeny Savchenko, Governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, commenting on the Kharkov gathering.
He added that the turmoil in Ukraine has already hurt residents of his region, who are reluctant to travel to its western neighbor and do business there.
The gathering in Kharkov was attended by about 3,000 representatives of local governments, according to the governor of the Kharkov region, Mikhail Dobkin, one of the key sponsors of the event.
Russia sent several officials in the capacity of observers to the gathering, including Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliamentary commission on foreign affairs, Mikhail Markelov, Pushkov’s counterpart in the Council of Federation, the upper chamber of the parliament, and several governors from regions in western Russia.
“The territorial integrity of Ukraine is at risk,” the gathering stated in the resolution.
It added that instability in Ukraine is highly dangerous and may cause unpredictable consequences, considering that the country hosts five nuclear power plants with 15 reactors in total, which some extremists have threatened to attack.