Ukraine’s most pro-Western parliament in history holds first session

Newly elected Ukrainian parliament deputies swear their oath during the inauguration cermeony in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. Ukraine Parliament has opened for its first session since an election last month that ushered in a spate of pro-Western parties.
KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine's eighth parliament held its first session on Thursday after snap elections last month ushered in the most Western-friendly group of lawmakers ever, including several from the Euromaidan revolution that ousted the country’s Russia-leaning president in February.
All 423 elected deputies were sworn in during an emotional inauguration ceremony inside the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, that was presided over by speaker Oleksandr Turchynov.
Even Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who remains imprisoned in Russia on what Kiev says are bogus murder chargers, took her oath. She reportedly signed it from her prison cell before her lawyer brought it to Ukraine. Savchenko was elected to parliament on the ticket of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party.
But hers and 27 other seats remain vacant in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada. Due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists occupy large swaths of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it was impossible to hold votes in several districts. Those areas under separatist-control, for now, will have no elected representatives.
The ceremony included all the pomp and circumstance of previous convocations. A choir dressed in traditional Ukrainian garb sang the national anthem, followed by the reading of a traditional prayer that began with the words, "God the great and united one, protect our Ukraine." But the ceremony also included a moment of silence to commemorate the more than 4,300 people who have lost their lives in the country's conflict-torn east since April.
In a reminder that the country is still at fighting pitched battles with pro-Russian separatists in the east, several new deputies from volunteer battalions who have fought in eastern Ukraine opted to wear their camouflaged uniforms in lieu of a suit and tie.
Meanwhile, the fighting raged on.
The country’s snap October parliamentary election overhauled a legislature previously dominated by supporters of former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February after three months of protests. He now faces charges of mass murder in Ukraine for the killing of over 100 demonstrators, but is unlikely to see his day in court after fleeing to Russia, where is has found refuge.
A day at Ukraine's parliament rarely passes without scandal. Thursday was no different, with President Petro Poroshenko's son, Oleksiy, among those deputies sworn in. Critics have blamed the head of state for perpetuating the same nepotism that plagued previous governments.
But overshadowing that were the new faces who took their seats inside the Verkhovna Rada for the first time.
Alex Ryabchin, an economist originally from Donetsk who won a seat in parliament on the Batkivshchyna party list, shared several photos from his first day on the job.
Others, like former investigative journalist Serhiy Leshchenko, were equally as excited, if not slightly in awe of the whole thing.
Five parties on Thursday formed the new ruling coalition in parliament. It is their responsibility to appoint the new cabinet of ministers.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, front right, and his cabinet stand during the opening first session of the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. Parliament in Ukraine has opened for its first session since an election last month that ushered in a spate of pro-Western parties.
On Thursday, the coalition moved quickly to endorse Arseniy Yatsenyuk to lead the government, meaning he would remain as prime minister. The coalition also endorsed Volodymyr Hroisman, a close ally of Poroshenko, for speaker of parliament. Shortly after, they confirmed him.
The president greeted Hroisman with roses after the vote.
Yuriy Lustenko, leader of the president's Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, told Interfax-Ukraine news agency that it was unlikely the rest of the government would be appointed on Thursday.
“Today, we will create a coalition, and today we will elect the leader of the Verkhovna Rada, and today we will elect the prime minister, and by the next session day on Tuesday, we will have the full composition of the government,” Lutsenko said.

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