KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Five Ukrainian political parties, elected to Parliament in Oct. 26 elections, announced agreement on a pro-Western coalition government Friday.
The five, only two of which existed a year ago, are committed to NATO membership and European Union integration. The announcement came on the first anniversary of Ukraine's "Euromaidan" protests, which brought down the government of former president Viktor Yanukovych.
At a ceremonial wreath-laying in Kiev Friday, where protests in February led to the deaths of anti-government demonstrators, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was heckled by relatives of those killed. They shouted, "Who is a hero for you, Poroshenko?" and "Where are the killers?" They were angered over the pace of bringing assailants to justice, as well as Poroshenko's neglect of a pledge he made to confer "national hero" status on the victims, a move that would bring relatives government financial benefits.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in Kiev to meet with Poroshenko, did not attend the ceremony, likely because of security worries. The remembrance honored the demonstrations in Kiev's Maidan Square over the refusal of Yanukovych to sign a previously-approved deal that would draw Ukraine more tightly into Western Europe's orbit and away from political and economic ties to Russia.
The five political parties in Ukraine's Rada, including those of Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, control 289 of its 450 seats and are expected to propel changes in a country whose economy is contracting and is in a war on its eastern border with Russia. Ukraine's currency reserves have fallen, the value of its currency is half what it was a year ago and a $17 billion International Monetary Fund bailout is now regarded as inadequate.
Previous Ukrainian Parliaments have featured a level of corruption most Western democracies would regard is intolerable, what the newspaper Kyiv Post termed backdoor deals and political horse trading.
"The greatest single risk factor in Ukraine is business as usual. It's a bigger threat than Russian tanks and Chechen mercenaries," said Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.