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MOSCOW, March 29. /TASS/. Issues of the implementation of the Minsk agreements were in focus of a meeting between Ukrainian and Russian delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Nikolai Kovalev, who leads the Russian delegation, told TASS on Sunday.
It was the first direct dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian lawmakers after the outbreak of hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
"The contact between Russian and Ukrainian lawmakers took place within a seminar on settling conflicts in border regions in Germany. It had a positive development," Kovalev said.
According to the Russian lawmaker, an agreement was reached "to continue contacts between lawmakers of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada /parliament/ and Russia’s State Duma /lower parliament house/ with an aim of implementing the Minsk agreements." "The major task today is to stop combat operation in Donbass and try to see what lawmakers of the two countries can make in the interests of ceasefire and observance of the Minsk agreements," he stressed.
Also, he said the subject of "the necessity of free election in eastern Ukraine" had been raised within the general discussions at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
"OSCE lawmakers raised the issue of the necessity of ensuring free expression of will in southestern Ukraine under monitoring of the European Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights /ODIHR/, which works in close contact with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly," Kovalev said. "Our key task and goal is to ensure transparency and free expression of will."
Marathon talks between the Normandy Four leaders - Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - in Minsk on February 12 yielded a package of agreements, which in particular envisaged ceasefire between the Ukrainian conflicting sides starting from midnight on February 15.
Concurrently, the Belarusian capital hosted a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine involving Ukraine’s ex-president Leonid Kuchma, Kiev’s special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics /DPR and LPR/ Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and OSCE’s envoy Heidi Tagliavini, both acting as mediators.
As a result, a package of measures was adopted to implement the Minsk agreements.