KIEV, Ukraine — Standing before a crowd of tens of thousands in Independence Square, the epicenter of the three-month civic uprising that ousted President Viktor F. Yanukovych, the lawmakers temporarily controlling Ukraine announced an interim government on Wednesday night to be led by Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, a veteran public official who has served as speaker of Parliament, foreign minister, economics minister and acting head of the central bank.
The public presentation of Mr. Yatsenyuk, who will serve as acting prime minister, and more than 20 other proposed cabinet members, was a frenetic effort by establishment politicians to win the backing of the street protesters, whose persistence in the face of the deaths of more than 80 people last week in clashes with the police, ultimately dislodged Mr. Yanukovych from power.
As the names of the proposed ministers were read from the stage — with flowers and candles blanketing the square in memory of the dead — it became clear just how completely the ordinary people on the street had seized control of the direction of Ukraine. Desperate for the crowd’s legitimacy, officials felt compelled to present the slate on stage in the square before putting it up for a vote by Parliament.
I know this sounds crazy, but I'm reminded of how in 532 AD the Emperor Justinian got into a long argument with the crowd at the chariot races in Constantinople. That was the main way public opinion was factored into Roman and Byzantine politics: by custom, the emperor had to appear at the games, where he was presented with petitions and the crowd's reactions to his responses were used as proto-opinion polls. In this case, Justinian was less than politically deft, and his arrogance led to the hooligan fans of the Blue chariot racing team and the Green chariot racing team uniting in a massive riot against him.
But perhaps there are elements of cultural continuity in Orthodox civilization?
The reaction from the crowd was decidedly mixed.
Jeers and whistles greeted some established politicians, and cheers for some figures with no government experience chosen because of their role in the uprising. But with Ukraine hurtling toward an economic catastrophe, and no time for protracted negotiations, the gesture of deference to the crowd seemed sufficient to move the process forward.
“We need to change these faces,” said Alyona Murashko, a 28-year-old marketing specialist who stopped in the square to watch the announcement, carrying groceries on her way home from work. Ms. Murashko said that she approved of the choice of Olga Bogomolets, a physician, singer and activist as deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs, and of Tatyana Chornovil, a crusading activist and journalist to lead Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau.
Ms. Murashko, however, said she opposed Mr. Yatsenyuk and many of the other choices. “I wouldn’t like to see him even temporarily,” she said. “No one from current political parties.” Ms. Murashko said that she was glad that presidential elections would be held in May, but wanted parliamentary elections “as soon as possible.”
Among those eliciting loud boos was Oleksandr V. Turchynov, who was elected by colleagues on Saturday as the new speaker of Parliament, and who has been authorized to carry out the duties of president, effectively putting him in charge of the country. Mr. Turchynov was not part of the slate announced on Wednesday night and will continue in his position even after the interim government is approved.
On the whole, the makeup of the interim government suggested that Ukraine would now move more swiftly to improve ties with the West, potentially reviving the sweeping political and trade agreements with the European Union that Mr. Yanukovych scuttled in November, setting off protests in Kiev and other cities.
Mr. Yatsenyuk is an ally of Mr. Yanukovych’s archrival, the former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko. ...
Mr. Yatsenyuk, by contrast, is largely viewed as an able technician with a firm grasp of economic policy and foreign affairs. Ukraine’s economy is in tatters and it is in desperate need of a rescue package from the International Monetary Fund, which has said it will demand painful austerity measures and long-delayed economic changes in return for any assistance. ...
Mr. Yatsenyuk was one of three opposition leaders in Parliament who were among the chief organizers of the street demonstrations. Another, the ex-champion boxer Vitali Klitschko, who heads a party called the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, has already announced his candidacy for president. The third, Oleg Tyagnybok, is the leader of the nationalist Svoboda party, which is popular in Western Ukraine but has limited support elsewhere.
Among the crowd-pleasing choices in this regard were Dmitry Bulatov, the leader of a group called AutoMaidan, who was designated as minister of youth and sport, and Eugene Nyschuk, an actor who has served as M.C. from the stage in Independence Square throughout the protests and who was selected as culture minister.