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Ukraine's political upheaval boosts some while others just get the boot

By Michael Pearson, CNN
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ukraine's sudden political transformation helps some, hurts others
  • Looking shaky: Ukraine's missing president, Russia and its allies in the country's east
  • Looking up: Opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko, the protest movement and the EU

(CNN) -- After months of protest, sudden and dramatic events have swept across Ukraine, boosting some and diminishing others. With questions swirling about where the president is, who's in charge and what will happen next, to say there's uncertainty about the future of this country of 44.5 million is an enormous understatement.

But some early winners and losers seem to be emerging from the chaos that shook Kiev last week as security forces and protesters battled to a bloody standstill that left dozens dead and earned the rebuke of Western powers.

Losers

President Viktor Yanukovych: His own party abandoned him as lawmakers voted unanimously to oust him from office. He's facing criminal charges stemming from the deadly crackdown on protesters last week.

Arrest warrant out for Yanukovych
Ousted Ukrainian president on the run
Ukrainian tanks are transported from their base in Perevalne, Crimea, on Wednesday, March 26. After Russian troops seized most of Ukraine's bases in Crimea, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered the withdrawal of armed forces from the peninsula, citing Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families. Ukrainian tanks are transported from their base in Perevalne, Crimea, on Wednesday, March 26. After Russian troops seized most of Ukraine's bases in Crimea, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered the withdrawal of armed forces from the peninsula, citing Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families.
Crisis in Ukraine
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Photos: Crisis in Ukraine Photos: Crisis in Ukraine
Ukrainians got their first glimpse inside ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's compound near Kiev when the presidential guards abandoned the grounds on Saturday, February 22, 2014. Ukrainians got their first glimpse inside ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's compound near Kiev when the presidential guards abandoned the grounds on Saturday, February 22, 2014.
President's 'insultingly extravagant' house
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Inside ousted Ukrainian President\'s palace Inside ousted Ukrainian President's palace

Russia: Russian officials were mostly sidelined last week as European foreign ministers negotiated the peace deal that ended the violence. Ukraine's opposition appears to be steering the country toward Europe. But Moscow still retains some bargaining chips: supply lines that provide most of Ukraine's natural gas, a huge naval base in the autonomous Ukrainian republic of Crimea and heavy Russian influence on culture, language and business in eastern Ukraine.

Eastern Ukraine: This hotbed of pro-Russian sentiment hasn't seen the sort of rabble-rousing that's upended much of the rest of the country. But that doesn't mean the people who live here aren't thinking about it, reports CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

"Certainly, there are a lot of pro-Russians in the east of the country who are very afraid of what might happen next, who are afraid that their culture, their heritage are in danger, who feel that the Russian language -- which has always had a special status here in Ukraine -- might be in danger of becoming marginalized as well," he reported Monday from Kharkiv.

Winners

Yulia Tymoshenko: The former revolutionary leader and prime minister, freed from prison after the peace deal was signed, has clearly gained in the past few days. She had been imprisoned since 2007 on what Western observers and many Ukrainians felt were politically motivated charges related to a gas deal with Russian provider Gazprom. She took a position of honor on the Independence Square stage Saturday, setting herself up as a possible presidential candidate. "Today, Ukraine has finished with this terrible dictator," she told protesters Saturday after her release. "There'll be no Ukraine but the Ukraine you want. And I'm the guarantor of that Ukraine."

Ukraine's opposition: They took over Kiev's Independence Square for months, held their own against much more heavily armed security forces and then flooded across Kiev to take control when those security forces vanished in the wake of the peace deal. Still, the mood in Kiev was somber as protesters honored those killed in last week's fighting. "This is a lesson for our country and a lesson that will help us to prevent this from happening ever in this country again," one protester said.

European Union: Europe is riding high in the wake of the peace deal largely brokered by foreign ministers from Poland, Germany and France who traveled to Kiev to help solve the crisis. It's unclear what's next for the European Union and Ukraine, which until late last year were discussing a trade deal that focused on economic modernization in return for long-term aid. But EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton was in Kiev on Monday to talk.

READ: A new day in Ukraine: Political uncertainty sweeps divided nation

READ: From prison to center stage for Tymoshenko

READ: What's behind Ukraine's political crisis?

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