Ukraine's pro-West parties negotiate coalition



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14/10/28  Kiev - The pro-Western winners of Ukraine s parliamentary poll entered coalition talks but attacks by pro-Russian insurgents in the east highlighted the obstacles to their ambitious promises of peace and deepening ties with the European Union. The day after pro-West and moderate nationalist forces backing President Petro Poroshenko scored a big win in Sunday s election, the hard work of forming a ruling coalition began. With 67 percent of precincts reporting, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk s People s Front and the Petro Poroshenko Bloc were neck and neck, getting about 22 percent of the votes each. Expectations were that the two would work together, with Yatsenyuk retaining the premier s post. Russia welcomed the outcome of the election as backing for "a peaceful resolution" of the separatist war, while the head of the EU executive, Jose Manuel Barroso, said the election was a "victory of democracy and European reforms". US President Barack Obama called the vote -- declared mostly fair by a European observer team on Monday -- an "important milestone in Ukraine s democratic development." - Rebel rockets - But in a fiery reminder of the hurdles Poroshenko faces, an election-period lull in the rebel-held east ended early Monday in a barrage of artillery fire. Dozens of rockets fired by pro-Russian insurgents could be heard blasting from the city of Donetsk towards a nearby Ukrainian military base, AFP correspondents said. More shelling was reported near the government-held coastal city of Mariupol, while military authorities reported the deaths of two soldiers in a rebel attack on Sunday near Lugansk. Kiev and its Western backers see the six-month uprising, and the March annexation by Russian troops of Crimea, as an attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cripple Ukraine.

But Moscow says it is simply coming to the aid of Russian speakers who feel threatened by Ukraine s lurch toward the West.

In response, the United States and European Union have imposed damaging economic sanctions on Moscow, fuelling the kind of East-West tensions last seen in the Cold War. Sunday s election was meant to finalise a revolution that began in February, when huge street protests ousted Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych after he abruptly rejected a landmark EU pact.