Many say unity in Ukraine is paramount.
KIEV, Ukraine — A day after a political earthquake in Ukraine, questions linger over the direction of the country even as it starts rebuilding its government.
Sunday, lawmakers elected a temporary leader, fired officials loyal to the previous government and began repealing a series of deeply unpopular laws while creating new ones.
Many uncertainties remain: Where is ousted President Viktor Yanukovych? How does the country bring back officials who have fled (and any money they may have taken)? And how do Ukrainians stay together?
In spite of deep divisions between the Russian-speaking east and the western region of the country, many say unity is paramount.
"We are united," lawmaker Vyacheslav Kerilenko said in parliament. "There can be no split."
It is unclear who is in control in the east and south, Yanukovych's base and his Party of Region's heartland. There's concern that some want to initiate a split of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million, in which half the country looks toward the West and the other toward Russia.
In Donetsk, a former stronghold of the ousted president in the east, old women begged protesters not to destroy a statue of Vladimir Lenin. "They said, 'You have won, but please don't speak badly of us,' " said Denis Strashny, who works in the advertising industry.
In Odessa, a Russian-speaking city on the Black Sea, some were dismayed at a new law passed by parliament Sunday that makes Ukrainian the sole language of the country, repealing an older law that recognized Russian.
"They are afraid of what might come, that this is the beginning of an assault by Ukrainian speakers and that they will come and discriminate against Russian speakers," said Odessa native Yuri Kovalyov.
Analysts say the country needs time to calm down after three months of protesting that was capped last week by violence that left more than 80 dead.
"I think that the people who are talking about secession are a very small minority," said Vitaly Chernetsky, president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies in Cambridge, Mass. "I think that there is a lot of diversity in Ukraine. ... When you take two different viewpoints that seem to be quite extreme and in conflict with each other (and look closely), there are many shades of grey in between."
Electing new leaders and getting Ukraine back on track, politically and economically, is at the top of parliament's to-do list.
Sunday, lawmakers elected an interim president, opposition leader Oleksandr Turchinov, and in the coming days, they will select a prime minister. Released opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has said she doesn't want the job.
Officials have moved to set up investigations into the deaths of dozens of protesters last week. Authorities plan to turn Yanukovych's mansion — fitted with millions of dollars' worth of chandeliers and other lavish items, including ostriches, paid for by taxpayers — into public property.
Some protesters say they are skeptical of a good and lasting outcome, pointing to the short-lived tenure of democratic changes introduced after Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution.
"This is a problem dating back to Soviet times," documentary maker Sasha Under said. "You can't change mentalities overnight."