President Petro Poroshenko called on Ukrainians on Saturday to elect a majority on Sunday that would see through a pro-Europe, reform agenda and break with the Soviet past.
Poroshenko, who is expecting a big win for his political bloc in the first parliamentary election since the overthrow of the Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovich, said he saw a “radically new” assembly emerging on Sunday.
But to push through his reform strategy, he needed “a majority in the Verkhovna Rada [parliament], one that is for reform and not corrupt, one that is pro-Ukrainian and pro-European and not pro-Soviet,” he said in a televised address to the people.
“Without such a majority in parliament, the president's program which millions of Ukrainians believed in in June will simply remain on paper,” he said.
Poroshenko, who was elected president in May by a landslide after “Euromaidan” street protests ousted Yanukovich, called Sunday's snap vote to clear out Yanukovich loyalists from parliament and secure increased legitimacy for Kyiv's pro-Western leadership in the face of pressure from Russia.
The “Euromaidan” revolution was broadly supported by Western governments but Moscow denounced Yanukovich's ouster as a coup by a “fascist junta.” Russia subsequently annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, which has a Russian majority, and backed separatist rebellions that broke out in the industrialized east.
Those rebellions led to a conflict in which about 3,700 people have been killed.
Poroshenko said he wanted a clear reform plan to emerge from any coalition agreement among the parties rather than “sweet promises” in exchange for government portfolios.
He also pledged to stick to his peace plan to find a negotiated end to the conflict in the east and ruled out ordering any military storm of separatist strongholds such as the city of Donetsk.
“We can only get those territories back by a political settlement and not by military means. Nobody will stop me from seeking a peaceful way out of the situation,” he said.