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Ukraine’s leaders slow formation of new Cabinet

Protesters want more input on choices

An anti-Yanukovych protester, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag with the name of his village on it, placed flowers Tuesday at a memorial for those killed in clashes with police in Kiev.

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

An anti-Yanukovych protester, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag with the name of his village on it, placed flowers Tuesday at a memorial for those killed in clashes with police in Kiev.

KIEV — The interim leaders of Ukraine stepped on the brakes Tuesday as they faced resistance from street protesters and some members of Parliament, who objected that they were moving too fast in forming a new Cabinet just three days after the old regime collapsed.

New ministers for every department were supposed to be in place by the end of the day. But strenuous protests from the Maidan — the city’s main square that is still thickly populated with demonstrators — about a lack of input forced the leaders of Parliament to wait at least until Thursday, despite European worries that Ukraine needs to move quickly to get its financial house in order.

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And members of the Parliament, or Verkhovna Rada, complained that the speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, was pushing bills through with little regard for debate or transparency — much as his predecessor had railroaded a package of harshly repressive laws through the Parliament in January, in an act that set off violent clashes between aggressive hard-line protesters and police.

But the slowdown also comes as Ukraine remains deeply unsettled by the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. In Kharkiv, a large eastern city where hostility to the Maidan was strong, tensions ran high as rival crowds faced off, with no one seemingly in charge. In the Crimea, with a strong pro-Russian population, a Russian flag was raised on a major government building and four Russian legislators met with local officials.

Officials in Moscow continued Tuesday to express displeasure with events in Ukraine, if not as harshly as the day before. One bill that flew through the Rada on Monday downgraded the status of Russian as an official language, which struck critics as an unnecessary and incendiary move, and which opened Ukraine’s new authorities to stinging criticism from their larger neighbor.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, tweeted Tuesday, ‘‘We want to curtail the influence of radicals and nationalists who are trying to play first fiddle in Ukraine.’’

The turn of events in Ukraine has been a major setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants to draw Ukraine into a new Eurasian Economic Union. But protesters on the Maidan worry that Russia still hopes to recoup its losses.

‘‘There are an awful lot of bandits here,’’ said Viktoria Ignatova, ‘‘and Putin wants to get them back into power.’’

Moscow argues that the Ukrainian protests have been taken over by extremists. But on the Maidan, there were strong fears that the revolution was being sold out.

Activists were unhappy with the roster of veteran politicians being mentioned for top posts in a new government. And one very familiar face was missing Tuesday — the giant poster with a portrait of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and arch-foe of Yanukovych, had been taken down.

Her release from prison Saturday had turned her into a player again instead of a cause, and she is no longer a uniting factor among what until a few days ago was the opposition. Her party, in any case, said she will go to Germany for medical treatment.

‘‘We need totally new people,’’ said Yaroslav Kazmyrchuk, 70, who described himself as a pensioner and a revolutionary.

A Maidan council has been established by a group of prominent activists to consult on ministerial choices. It wants to veto any candidate who is rich, who worked for Yanukovych, or who was involved in human rights abuses.

The Maidan had a full crowd Tuesday as people laid flowers at shrines to the dead built from stacked paving stones, and snapped photos of the barricades of rubble that had held back the police. Kazmyrchuk said the camp protest there would continue until it was clear that all the ‘‘bandits’’ would be removed from power.

There was still no conclusive word Tuesday on the whereabouts of Yanukovych, a day after the authorities announced a nationwide manhunt for him on murder charges.

But a top aide, Andriy Kluyev, who was thought to have been with Yanukovych, was reported by his press secretary to have been shot and wounded — where and when were not clear.

While the Rada was putting off a vote on a new government, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s top foreign policy official, met with the interim leaders and asked for a financial reform plan, which would open the way to EU loans.

Ukraine’s economy is in dire shape, and the new authorities said they have found the government’s coffers almost bare.

In Kharkiv, where nationalists seized the local government building over the weekend, an opposing crowd had gathered around a huge statue of Lenin across the main square to protect it from assault.

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