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Top Georgian politician says Kiev’s dialogue with Donbas could have prevented tragedy

September 24, 2015, 19:17 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

Nino Burjanadze said the latest developments "are once again indicating that Ukrainian leaders have made unforgivable mistakes"

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© TASS/Mikhail Sokolov

ST. PETERSBURG, September 24. /TASS/. A tragedy in eastern Ukraine could have been avoided if President Petro Poroshenko "had had the courage to travel to Donetsk and Luhansk and talk to people directly", a prominent Georgian opposition figure said on Thursday.

Nino Burjanadze, former parliamentary speaker and leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, said the situation around Crimea and the latest developments connected with the blockade of the Black Sea peninsula "are once again indicating that Ukrainian leaders have made unforgivable mistakes."

"They do not understand that by doing so, they prove that they do not regard Crimeans as their fellow citizens," said Burjanadze, who arrived in Russia's city of St. Petersburg on Thursday to attend the Eurasian Women's Forum.

"How can you block people - children, women and senior citizens? Instead of talking and making some steps, they are playing into the hands of those people who really see that Crimea is part of Russia and it will never be Ukrainian again," she said.

The politician expressed astonishment that authorities in Kiev had allowed a war on its own population in the country’s east.

"I’m absolutely sure that if [Ukrainian president] Poroshenko and the Ukrainian leadership had had the courage to travel to Crimea as soon as differences emerged, visit Donetsk and Luhansk and speak directly to people, I’m sure that then the tragedy we see now could have been avoided," Burjanadze said, stressing that "no one can use weapons against own people".

"If such things happen, it can have grave consequences. We have seen it in Georgia and in Ukraine. It’s a pity that Ukrainian politicians repeat the same mistakes we made in our time," she added.

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