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OSCE observers say situation in Ukraine’s Lugansk, Donetsk regions tense

April 19, 2014, 18:56 UTC+3 VIENNA
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VIENNA, April 19, /ITAR-TASS/. The situation in the central and western regions of Ukraine is relatively calm while it is tense in the eastern Lugansk and Donetsk regions, according to a report released by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission based on information provided up until 20:00 local time April 18.

“In Lugansk and Donetsk districts it is tense owing to the continued activity of armed opponents of the central government,” the report said.

The Mission also noted that the April 17 Geneva agreement on the de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine had not begun to be implemented yet and people in concrete localities had little information about how to implement it.

The Ukrainian government said it would not pull out troops from the south-eastern regions despite the Geneva agreement.

Acting Foreign Minister Andrei Deshchitsa said after talks with the foreign policy chiefs from Russia, the United States and the European Union on April 17 that “the Ukrainian government has authorised a counter-terrorism operation in the regions affected by extremist and terrorist activities,” he said, adding that “the troops deployed there are staying on the territory of Ukraine” and “we do not have to pull them out of there”.

However, he stressed that the presence of troops in the south-east of Ukraine did not mean that they would be used. “They may not used in operations if the situation is de-escalated,” he said.

Deshchitsa noted the important role of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in easing tensions in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. “We will immediately ask the OSCE, the mission of which is already working on the ground, to get to the places where public buildings have been seized and to start negotiations,” the acting minister said. “I believe that Ukrainian law enforcers will not be the first to use force,” he added.

He said the agreements reached in Geneva were “a test for Russia” and stressed that “the next few days will be extremely important as they will require all sides to take sincere efforts to implement the formulas that were so so meticulously worked out today”.

The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.

All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.

The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.

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