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All members of Contact Group for Ukraine arrive for negotiations in Minsk

January 31, 2015, 16:20 UTC+3 MINSK
The officials who arrived are Ukraine’s former President Leonid Kuchma representing the Ukrainian government, the Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov
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MINSK, January 31. /TASS/. All members of the Contact Group for settling the armed civil conflict in eastern Ukraine have arrived in Minsk where a yet another round of consultations will hopefully take place later in the day.

The officials who arrived are Ukraine’s former President Leonid Kuchma representing the Ukrainian government, the Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov acting as a mediator, and the special representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Heidi Tagliavini.

Plenipotentiary representatives of the self-proclaimed unrecognized Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, arrived somewhat earlier. Pushilin told reporters the information he had suggested that Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko had signed a decree appointing Kuchma the plenipotentiary representative of the Kiev government.

He also said the terms for arrival of the Prime Ministers of the two unrecognized East-Ukrainian republics, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky remained the same as before.

"Number one, all the combat actions and the shelling of all the populated localities should stop," Pushilin said.

As condition number to, he named a final document that was to be drafted by plenipotentiary representatives of the sides and initialed by all of them.

"They (Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky) will be ready to come after that," Pushilin said. "Quite obviously, yesterday’s shelling of a queue of people who were awaiting distribution of humanitarian aid is probably the best proof of the importance of their stay side by side with their people right now."

He recalled that twelve civilians died and another twenty were wounded in Donetsk on Friday. "They (the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk republics) are subjected to genocide in practical terms."

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry confirmed that a new round of consultations in the format of the Contact Group was expected to start off in Minsk on Saturday afternoon and the Dipservis Hall building would be its venue.

The meeting was to take place on Friday but it was canceled, as no one had arrived from Kiev.

A decision to make Minsk a permanent venue for consultations of the Contact Group was taken in the Belarusian capital on August 26, 2014, upon the results of a summit of the Eurasian Customs Union countries.

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