Kiev: More than 4,000 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine between the army and pro-Russian separatists, the UN has said as the Ukrainian president took steps to "unite" the country after elections.
The United Nations said in over six months there have been 4,035 deaths, more than 300 in the last 10 days alone, showing the fragility of a ceasefire reached in September.
The new UN report comes after legislative polls last weekend that elected a pro-Western government and led Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko yesterday to back rival Arseniy Yatsenyuk as future premier in a bid for unity.
Poroshenko said his choice was dictated by the "need for the country to unite" in order to implement reforms and push Ukraine along a path towards European integration.
Yatsenyuk's People's Front has a narrow lead over Poroshenko's party according to a near final count of last Sunday's parliament polls, an unexpected result that has some observers wondering if Kiev could become paralysed by rivalry between its leaders.
Ukraine's election commission said that 99.74 per cent of votes have been counted, however the final makeup of the Verkhovna Rada is still unclear as half of the deputies are chosen by a first-past-the-post constituency system.
The presidency said on the website that the Poroshenko Bloc has secured a total of 150 seats out of 450.
The number for the party of Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's chief negotiator at global financial institutions, is not yet known.
Poroshenko's aim is a strong pro-European coalition in parliament that can implement direly needed reforms as the war-ravaged country is faced with financial ruin and a relentless battle with pro-Russian rebels in the east.
The Ukrianian president has been unable to stop the separatist "people's republics" in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions from slipping away, and they are set to hold their own polls tomorrow, a ballot decried by the West and welcomed by Moscow as the region continues to drift closer to its orbit.
"These elections are important because they will give legitimacy to our power and give us more distance from Kiev," said the election commission chief of the Donetsk People's Republic, Roman Lyagin, describing negative reactions from the West as "not constructive".
About three million ballots have been printed ahead of the polls, and some 34,000 have already voted over the Internet, Lyagin told a news conference.
Moscow this week vowed to recognise the rebel polls, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying he expects them to "go ahead as agreed".
New NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Moscow yesterday against such recognition, adding that statements like Lavrov's "show that Russia continues its efforts to destabilise Ukraine".