Pro-Western Ukraine parliament opens for its first session since elections


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MOSCOW — Ukraine's parliament opened for its inaugural session Thursday since an election last month that ushered in a spate of pro-Western parties.

Security was tight outside the building, which has been the focus of numerous rowdy rallies in recent months.

The October election overhauled a legislature once dominated by loyalists of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February after months of protests.

A preliminary governing coalition was formed last week, uniting five parties intent on guiding Ukraine toward integration with Europe and possible eventual NATO membership.

The new parliament draws together a colorful variety of political figures, including crusading anti-corruption campaigners, commanders of paramilitary units fighting Russian-backed separatists in the east, and remnants of Yanukovych's entourage.

One deputy, Nadezhda Savchenko, is awaiting trial in a Russian prison after she was captured by Russian-backed militia during fighting in eastern Ukraine in June. Russian investigators accuse Savchenko, a Ukrainian air force officer, of involvement in the killing of two Russian journalists.

A photo of a parliamentary oath signed by Savchenko flashed on a screen in parliament during the inauguration.

The largest forces in parliament are Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's Popular Front, President Petro Poroshenko's party and Samopomich, a new pro-European party based in western Ukraine. Those groups, along with the Fatherland party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the Radical Party, make up the coalition.

Around 200 people gathered outside the parliament for a rally intended to pressure the new parliament to keep election promises.

"We have compiled diaries of political responsibility for them. Every lawmaker must report on what they have or have not achieved," said activist Maryna Yaremenko, holding up a copy of the booklet to be sent to all new members of parliament. "If they promised something before the election, it must be done."

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