Ukraine set for fresh parliamentary election

Monday 25 August 2014 22.48
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Petro Poroshenko said the election would be held on 26 October
Petro Poroshenko said the election would be held on 26 October
Ukrainian soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint on a road near the city of Dnepropetrovsk
Ukrainian soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint on a road near the city of Dnepropetrovsk
Pro-Ukrainian fighters inspect their burnt vehicle after an attack by pro-Russian rebels
Pro-Ukrainian fighters inspect their burnt vehicle after an attack by pro-Russian rebels
Russia sent 230 lorries carrying what it claimed was 1,800 tonnes of humanitarian aid on Friday
Russia sent 230 lorries carrying what it claimed was 1,800 tonnes of humanitarian aid on Friday

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dissolved Ukraine's parliament this evening and announced an election on 26 October.

The announcement comes with Ukraine fighting a war against separatists that has driven relations with Russia to an all-time low.

Mr Poroshenko's decision had been expected.

Tthe governing coalition in Ukraine, which ousted its Moscow-backed president in street protests in February precipitating the separatist rebellions in its eastern regions, collapsed on 24 July.

Mr Poroshenko and his government, whose pro-Europe policies have riled Russia, hope to stabilise the situation in the east by October sufficiently to hold a relatively normal election.

It couldl earn them greater legitimacy and strengthen their hand in dealing with Russia.

"I have taken the decision to dissolve parliament for elections on October 26," Mr Poroshenko said in a Twitter post in which he urged all Ukrainians to turn out.

He and his liberal supporters will be seeking an endorsement of the tough line they have taken in the separatist war and their European integration policies which have brought confrontation with Russia.

Russia, angered by the ousting of Mr Yanukovich who fled following the deaths of more than 100 protesters killed in Kiev by police snipers, annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March.

Mr Poroshenko's leadership accuses Russia of being behind the separatist rebellions in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east which broke out shortly afterwards, though Russia denies this.

In a statement to compatriots on his website tonight, Mr Poroshenko hoped the election would clear out many of the "old guard" who supported Mr Yanukovich and produce a coalition able to push through vital economic and political reform after years of corrupt misrule and malpractice.             

"The present parliament for a year and a half was a support for Yanukovich. And the majority of precisely these deputies adopted dictatorial laws which took the lives of 'Heaven's Hundred'," he said referring to the protesters who were killed and who have now acquired martyr status in Kiev.

"Someone has to take responsibility for this - criminal and political," he said.             

He accused some deputies of backing the separatists.

"Many deputies are, if they are not the direct sponsors and associates, the supporters of the separatist fighters," he said.

"I consider victory in the Donbass and the victory of democratic reforming forces in parliament a mutually linked process," he said.

Donbass is the name given to the industrialised and mainly Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, where two regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, have declared independence from Ukraine in an attempt to join Russia.

The crisis in Ukraine, in which the United Nations says more than 2,000 people have been killed, has resulted in the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

The United States and its European allies have imposed broad sanctions on Russia because of its alleged backing for, and arming of, the rebels.

Mr Poroshenko heads for the Belarussian capital of Minsk tomorrow for his first meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin since June.

The timing of his election announcement was intended to broadcast to Mr Putin and European Union officials, who will also be present in Minsk, that Ukraine was steadily normalising and building democratic structures after the malpractice of the Yanukovich years.

But with Ukraine angered over reports of Russian armoured vehicles coming across the border today with the aim of opening a new front in the separatist war the prospects of a breakthrough in Minsk appear slim.

Keywords: russia, ukraine