After a scuppered EU deal, three months of protests, and nearly 100 deaths, public exasperation with politicians in Ukraine is so high that even the opposition's return to power has done little to calm tempers.
So before interim leaders announced a new unity government on February 26 at Independence Square, expectations were high that a number of Euromaidan protesters -- who currently enjoy the greatest moral authority -- would be asked to play a role.
It's far from clear that Euromaidan leaders are eager to lend their massive public support to government service. But neither are they ready to retreat from shaping Ukraine's future. Some may turn up in the government or parliament. Some may become important civic leaders. But all of them should be figures to watch in the new emerging Ukraine.
Parubiy, 43, is already a seasoned politician, having served as a lawmaker in the Verkhovna Rada since 2007, first for Our Ukraine, and then for Batkivshchyna (Fatherland). But he has gained massive public trust as a Euromaidan commandant and coordinator of the protests' Samooborona (Self-Defense) forces. (His deputy, Andriy Levus, was credited with negotiating a cease-fire with the police following last week's bloodshed.) Parubiy, a Kyiv native, had been tapped as a potential defense minister in the unity government, but was instead nominated to head the National Security and Defense Council
A relatively new lawmaker, having joined the Rada as a Fatherland deputy in 2012, the 48-year-old Hrynevych is considered one of Ukraine's most esteemed educators. Hrynevych, who holds dual degrees in biochemistry and economic management, has driven efforts to implement standardized testing in Ukraine and eliminate massive corruption in the country's higher-learning institutions. During Euromaidan, she used her authority to issue strong warnings against school rectors threatening to punish students for participating in protests. She was widely expected to be named minister of education and science, stepping in after the widely reviled Dmytro Tabachnyk
The 46-year-old Bohomolets, who helped lead Euromaidan's medical services, is a political newcomer but a deeply respected member of the Kyiv intelligentsia. A dermatologist who served as former President Viktor Yushchenko's personal physician while he recovered from the effects of dioxin poisoning, she comes from a long line of doctors, including her great-grandfather, Oleksandr Bohomolets, whose name graces Kyiv's main medical school. Bohomolets was among the first doctors to offer evidence that metal bullets were being used against Maidan protesters. She was tipped to be named minister of health, but instead was nominated as deputy prime minister on humanitarian issues.
The head of the controversial nationalist Right Sector militia, the 42-year-old Yarosh is one of the only Euromaidan activists who is believed to be openly seeking a government post -- a fact that makes many people nervous. Yarosh, a native of Dnipropetrovsk, built a well-armed paramilitary group that has defended Maidan encampments but also contributed to some of the protest's most brutal street fighting. He has called for lustration of top-ranking officials from the regime of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
But his scorn for the opposition is also well-known: Right Sektor roundly rejected last week's negotiated settlement between Yanukovych and the opposition, saying the uprising would only end with the "total elimination of the domestic occupying regime." But some critics accuse Yarosh of harboring secret ties with the previous regime, citing the fact that Right Sektor has not lost a single member to violence since the start of the protests. Yarosh is believed to be seeking a security post, possibly as deputy prime minister in charge of security.
Vasyl Hatsko & Viktor Andrusiv
The two leading members of the Democratic Alliance political party are young -- just 31 and 30, respectively. They're also bristly. During an emotional live interview with RFE/RL's Ukraine Service on February 23, Andrusiv lashed out at opposition leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Vitali Klitschko, and Oleh Tyahnybok, saying they had failed to represent, or even understand, the interests of the public.
"Since December 1, Democratic Alliance has raised banners over Maidan with a single demand: Remove Yanukovych from power. And when the opposition was discussing the agreement with Yanukovych, our leader [Hatsko] was the only one arguing against it," Andrusiv said. "Even as they were hugging and shaking hands over the agreement, I was on stage, shouting that there must be no deal with Yanukovych. So what do we do now? Our second demand is total lustration. These politicians who call themselves the opposition -- they don't correspond to our values! They don't correspond to the interests of Maidan!"
Hatsko, for his part, has put it a different way. Blogging this week for "Ukrayinskaya pravda," he warned it was "too early for victory" and said three tasks remained. Punish the guilty. Change the constitution. And change the politicians.
A well-known journalist and activist, 35-year-old Lutsenko served as a deputy commandant at Maidan until January 21, when he was kidnapped from a hospital, tortured, and left for dead in a forest outside Kyiv. Fellow activist Yuriy Verbitskiy, who was kidnapped at the same time, ultimately died of exposure, becoming one of the protests' first victims. Lutsenko, a trained economist and architecture enthusiast, has lobbied in the past on behalf of preserving Kyiv's older buildings. He registered as an independent candidate in the 2012 parliamentary elections. Yatsenyuk this week expressed hope Lutsenko would join government ranks.
Bulatov, the 35-year-old spokesman for Automaidan, the automotive wing of the Euromaidan movement, became an instant symbol of the protest movement after he survived a horrifying kidnapping in which he was starved, tortured, and brutally beaten by captors who sliced off part of his ear. Bulatov, a Kyiv native, returned to Ukraine on February 25 after undergoing medical treatment abroad. Bulatov was photographed
standing with Bohomolets and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. He was nominated to be minister of youth and sport.
For nearly all of Maidan, the 26-year-old Lviv native was just a rank-and-file member of the "Sotnye" defense brigade, who had traveled to Kyiv with his father to support the protests. But that changed on the night of February 21, when he charged the Maidan stage, speaking angrily of friends killed in the fighting and laying down a fiery ultimatum
to the opposition leaders who had just signed off on the peace deal allowing Yanukovych to serve to the end of the year. "We ordinary people are saying this to the politicians who stand behind us: 'No Yanukovych is going to be president for a whole year. Tomorrow by 10 o'clock, he has to be out!'" Hours later, Yanukovych had fled the capital, and Parasyuk, by contrast, had become a local hero.