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Donetsk Republic head does not confirm arrest of Sloviansk mayor

June 11, 2014, 21:45 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Earlier reports said Ponomaryov was dismissed and arrested by the decision of DPR Defense Minister Igor Strelkov
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Denis Pushilin

Denis Pushilin

© ITAR-TASS/Konstantin Sazonchik

MOSCOW, June 11. /ITAR-TASS/. Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) head Denis Pushilin has not confirmed that people’s mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, was arrested.

Earlier reports said Ponomaryov was dismissed and arrested by the decision of DPR Defense Minister Igor Strelkov.

“When I was crossing the border, I had no voice confirmation from Igor Strelkov,” Pushilin told journalists on Wednesday after a meeting with Russian Liberal Democratic Party deputies in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament.

However, he said he does not rule out such staff changes. “I can’t confirm them as I don’t rule out canards,” Pushilin said.

Fierce fighting has been underway between the Ukrainian military and militias in Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which refused to recognize the authorities who had been propelled to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

A punitive operation, being conducted by Kiev against federalization supporters in Ukraine's southeast and involving armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation, has already claimed dozens of lives, including civilian, and damaged buildings.

Billionaire businessman and politician Petro Poroshenko, who had funded anti-government protests that led to February’s coup, won the May 25 early presidential election in Ukraine set by the provisional Kiev authorities. He was sworn in on June 7. Despite hopes that the punitive operation will stop under Poroshenko, it still continues.

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