Pro-EU protest leader Yatsenyuk named Ukraine premier

KIEV (AFP) - Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of those who led the protests that rocked Ukraine, was Wednesday picked to head up the government of the crisis-hit country until presidential elections are held in May.

The pro-EU former foreign minister's nomination was announced in front of tens of thousands of people on Kiev's Independence Square, the epicentre of three months of protest that culminated in the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, along with an entirely new cabinet.

Yatsenyuk's nomination as prime minister still has to be approved by parliament, but it was greeted by cheers on the square, which just a week ago was at the heart of bloody clashes between protesters and security forces that left nearly 100 dead.

He now faces the tough task of dragging the ex-Soviet state back from the brink of collapse as Ukraine stands on the verge of default and faces separatist tensions.

Other key members of the new cabinet included Andriy Parubiy, the highly respected commander of the so-called Euromaidan protest movement, who was named head of the national security and defence council.

Dmytro Yarosh, the head of the controversial far-right paramilitary group Pravy Sektor that was a key component of the protests and whose members were often at the frontline of clashes, was offered the post of Parubiy's deputy but had not yet given his answer.

Dmytro Bulatov, meanwhile, the activist who was abducted and severely tortured in January and sent to Lithuania for treatment, became youth and sports minister.