Ukraine’s two leading opposition parties have agreed a deal to field a single candidate list for each constituency in October’s parliamentary elections.
The leaders of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s party, Fatherland, and the Front of Changes shook on the deal and announced they were confident of winning 170 seats.
President Viktor Yanukovich has faced a divided opposition since narrowly winning an election in 2010.
“This is a democratic coalition, not just for fighting elections. We will be a united coalition, performing its programme for parliamentary elections every day,” said the Front’s Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Tymoshenko remains in jail but hugely influential in her Motherland party, which is campaigning for her release even as a second trial attempting to convict her for tax evasion is underway.
Our correspondent in Ukraine says this coalition should stay together despite the risks of fresh misunderstandings between the two parties: its existence is in fact justified by the political demand of that section of Ukrainian society keen to vote for the opposition.
A win for the opposition in the October elections could create the conditions for Tymoshenko’s release. She maintains that her prosecutions are politically motivated. The EU condemned her and her allies trials last year as examples of “selective justice”.