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Pro-Russian Insurgents Refuse to Leave 04/18 06:48

   Pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine's east who have been occupying government 
buildings in more than 10 cities said Friday they will only leave them if the 
interim government in Kiev resigns.

   DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine's east who have 
been occupying government buildings in more than 10 cities said Friday they 
will only leave them if the interim government in Kiev resigns.

   Denis Pushilin, a chairman of the self-appointed Donetsk People's Republic, 
told reporters that the insurgents do not recognize the Ukrainian government as 
legitimate.

   Ukraine and Russia on Thursday agreed to take tentative steps toward calming 
tensions along their shared border after weeks of conflict. But Pushilin, 
speaking at the insurgent-occupied regional administration's building in 
Donetsk, said the deal specifies that all illegally seized buildings should be 
vacated, and in his opinion the government in Kiev is also occupying public 
buildings illegally.

   "This is a reasonable agreement but everyone should vacate the buildings and 
that includes Yatsenyuk and Turchynov," he said referring to the acting 
Ukrainian prime minister and president. He reiterated the call for a referendum 
that he said will allow "self-determination of the people."

   The deal agreed in Geneva calls for disarming all paramilitary groups and 
the immediate return of all government buildings seized across the country. 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the time emphasized that that applies 
to all parties, including protesters in Kiev.

   Russia did not demand that that the new government leave the buildings, even 
though Moscow has not recognized it.

   Neither the Ukrainian government nor the Right Sector movement, whose 
activists are occupying Kiev's city hall and a cultural center in the capital, 
commented Friday.

   The Russian foreign ministry also had no immediate comment, but pro-Russian 
Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleh Tsaryov, whose statements often echo 
Moscow's stance, said in comments carried by the Russian state RIA Novosti news 
agency on Friday that Right Sector activists should be the first to lay down 
their arms and that Ukrainian servicemen who have unsuccessfully tried to 
regain control over parts of eastern Ukraine should return to their quarters.

   Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the parliament Friday morning that the 
government has drafted a law that would offer amnesty to all those who will be 
willing to lay down their arms and leave the occupied government buildings.

   Kiev-based political analyst Vasim Karasyov said Ukraine's fledgling 
government does not have the resources to resolve the stand-off in eastern 
Ukraine militarily, so it is going to have to negotiate with the pro-Russian 
protesters.

   Kiev "should finally listen to the demands of those people, what they want," 
he said. "They don't even know what their demands are; maybe they are 
reasonable. The government in Kiev is pretending as if there are no problems in 
the east."


(KA)


 
 
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