MOSCOW, July 2. /TASS/. Self-defence forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have withdrawn their units from Shirokino, DPR Defence Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin said on Thursday.
"At the time of the shelling of the village of Sakhanka there were no DPR armed forces units in Shirokino," the Donetsk news agency quotes him as saying. Basurin earlier said that the procedural issues of Shirokino’s demilitarization were being resolved by the DPR authorities with the OSCE mission.
Shortly before, the DPR unilaterally declared Shirokino a demilitarized zone.
"As a gesture of good will and peaceful intentions, the leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic took a decision to unilaterally consider the village of Shirokino a demilitarized zone. The DPR armed forces were instructed not to open even reprisal fire in this direction," said DPR envoy to the Contact Group on Ukraine Denis Pushilin.
He noted that the DPR strictly fulfilled its obligations in the framework of the Minsk peace process, but the artillery bombardments of the republic from the Ukrainian side did not abate, with the most difficult situation in this respect evolving precisely in Shirokino.
The DPR envoy expressed hope that the goodwill gesture made by the republic’s authorities would entail appropriate response from the officials in Kiev.
"This will be the first real step to launch a peaceful dialogue between the independent republics and the Ukrainian leaders," Pushilin said.
The village of Shirokino located between Mariupol and Novoazovsk controlled by the DPR authorities is one of the dangerous areas near the contact line. Due to incessant artillery bombardments from the Ukrainian side the local authorities had to evacuate all civilians who remained in the village, most of the buildings were destroyed. The issue of Shirokino’s demilitarization previously remained one of the most problematic in the context of agreements to withdraw weapons with the caliber under 100 mm.