Ukraine Parliament Hands Presidency to Tymoshenko Ally
Parliament speaker gives MPs til Tuesday to form government; Yanukovych still missing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 23, 2014 5:44 AM CST
People raise their fists during a rally in Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.   (Efrem Lukatsky)
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(Newser) – The whereabouts and legitimacy of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych are still unclear today, after he left the capital and archrival Yulia Tymoshenko was freed from prison and returned to Kiev to address a massive, adoring crowd. Ukraine's newly emboldened legislature voted today to hand the president's powers to parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, a Tymoshenko ally. Turchinov in turn informed MPs that they had until Tuesday to form a unity government, notes the BBC, telling them "this is a priority task." Parliament also voted to remove a string of government ministers, as well as confiscate the luxury estate of Yanukovych (the New York Times takes a look inside, which includes a golf course, private zoo, and restaurant inside a pirate ship). But Yanukovych has dismissed parliament decisions in recent days as illegal.

A plane with Yanukovych onboard was denied permission to take off last night from Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is his base of support. A spokesman said this morning that even he does not know where Yanukovych is. The Kiev protest camp at the center of the anti-Yanukovych movement filled with more and more dedicated demonstrators this morning setting up new tents after a day that saw a stunning reversal of fortune in a political standoff that has left scores dead. "We need to catch and punish those with blood on their hands," said a 45-year-old engineer on Independence Square today.