Ukraine PM nominee says country's future in EU

DALTON BENNETT Associated Press Published:

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) -- A protest leader expected to become Ukraine's next prime minister says the country's future lies in the European Union but with friendly relations with Russia.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine doesn't want a fight with Russia, but insisted the country wouldn't accept the secession of the southern Crimea region, where unknown gunmen on Thursday occupied local government buildings and raised the Russian flag.

He said Crimea "has been and will be a part of Ukraine."

The 39-year-old Yatsenyuk has been nominated by Ukraine's interim leaders to become prime minister. A vote was expected in Parliament later Thursday.

Yatsenyuk said tough reforms are needed to prevent Ukraine, divided in loyalties between Russia and the West, from collapsing economically and politically.