Ukraine’s newly inaugurated president dissolved the contentious parliament Monday and set early elections for Oct. 26 in a move that will probably put further pressure on the country’s east-west divide. President Petro Poroshenko had promised during his spring electoral campaign to resolve the standoff between parliamentary deputies of his coalition and the loyalists of former President Viktor Yanukovich, who was deposed by a pro-Western rebellion in late February. The act of dissolving the Supreme Council was announced by Poroshenko on the presidential website late Monday and reported by the Ukrinform news agency. Poroshenko said in a statement that the parliament was riven by conflict because many of the deputies were “direct sponsors or accomplices” of the separatists who have seized goverment and security buildings in the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
More than 2,000 people have died since April in fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatist forces, which authorities in Kiev say are armed and instigated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yanukovich and his pro-Kremlin allies in the Party of Regions had kept Ukraine locked into economic integration with Russia during his turbulent years in office as support mounted in much of the central and western regions of Ukraine for a closer alliance with the European Union.