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ILNA: War - weary Ukrainians are set to pick a pro - Western and nationalist - leaning parliament on Sunday that should give President Petro Poroshenko a mandate to end separatist conflict in the east, but may inject new tension into ties with Russia.

It is the first parliamentary election in the ex - Soviet republic of ۴۶ millions since street protests in the capital last winter forced Moscow - backed leader Viktor Yanukovich to flee and ushered in a pro - Europe leadership under Poroshenko.

The results are expected to turn a political grouping supporting the ۴۹ - year - old confectionery tycoon into the leading force in the ۴۵۰ - seat assembly, giving him a mandate to pursue his peace plan for the east and carry out deep reforms sought by Ukraine’s European Union partners.

Poroshenko said on Saturday in a televised address he wanted a majority to emerge that would see through laws to support a pro - Europe agenda and break with the Soviet past.

" Without such a majority in parliament, the President’s program… will simply remain on paper, " he said.

With diminished pro - Russian influence and following a strong European integration agenda, it will be one of the most radical parliaments since Ukraine gained independence in ۱۹۹۱.

The emergence of a strong presence committed to a united Ukraine will place a fresh strain on ties with Russia which the Kiev leadership blames for backing rebels in a conflict that has killed more than ۳,۷۰۰ people and destroyed the economy.

A gas pricing row with Russia which has the potential to disrupt supplies to European Union countries via Ukraine also rumbles on unresolved despite a meeting between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.[ID: nL۶N۰SJ۴۶Q]

Poroshenko called the snap election with the aim of clearing out Yanukovich loyalists and securing further legitimacy for Kiev’s pro - Western direction after the " Euromaidan " protests.

The protests were broadly supported by the West but denounced by Russia as a coup after Yanukovich’s fall. A month later, Russia annexed Crimea and separatist rebellions, supported by Russia, erupted in the industrialized east.

The ensuing crisis, in which the United States and its Western allies have imposed sanctions, is the worst between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

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