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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communist Gains in Ukraine Post Warning to Government

KIEV -- The strong showing by the Communists in Ukraine's parliamentary elections should force the country's leaders to implement reforms more effectively, an aide to President Leonid Kuchma said Wednesday.

With nearly all the votes from Sunday's balloting counted, the Communist Party was set to occupy more than a quarter of the 450 seats in parliament. Other leftists who capitalized on falling living standards in their campaigns also fared well, but 114 of the seats were won by independent candidates, making the effect of the new parliament difficult to predict.

"A meaningful quantity of people voted against the poor lives they lead today, and this is a good warning for those conducting a policy of reforms in this country," Kuchma administration chief Yevhen Kushnaryov said.

"People must see results," Kushnaryov said at a news conference.

Since his election four years ago, Kuchma's promised reforms have been slowed by his deadlock with parliament and bureaucratic resistance within the executive branch.

But Ukraine's economic decline has been slowing, and the government claims that this year will bring the first growth since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991.

Kuchma faces an uphill battle for re-election late in 1999. Without noticeable economic improvement his chances of winning a second term would be likely to fizzle even further.

While the results of the election point to a continued standoff with parliament, Kushnaryov reiterated Kuchma's pledge to work with the new parliament to push measures needed to boost the economy.

However, he said, "This does not mean that the president will make concessions on principal issues."

Kushnaryov pictured a parliament divided into two camps: one in favor of keeping the constitution unchanged and pursuing reforms, the other -- led by the Communists -- calling for constitutional change and a halt to reforms.