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Elections in Donbass may be held in June — Western diplomatic source

March 03, 2016, 18:12 UTC+3

Holding elections in the territories of the Donetsk region that are not controlled by Kiev is one of the objectives outlined in the Minsk agreements

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© Mikhail Pochuev/TASS

PARIS, March 3. /TASS/. Elections in the southeast Ukrainian region of Donbass may be held in June, a Western diplomatic source told TASS on Thursday.

"Yes, it may happen in June," he said, answering a corresponding question. "If all the details are discussed and agreed now, this time is quite real."

According to the source, Thursday’s meeting of the foreign ministers in the ‘Normandy format’ (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) is expected to give the closest attention to this issue.

The source admitted, however, that the difficulties emerging in the work of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) "may hinder the settlement process."

"It is necessary to think how to avoid this," he added. "Diplomacy’s role is in defusing the situation, so the work will be continued."

"We hope that all the aspects envisaged by the Minsk agreement will be settled," the source added. "All the sides should comply with the agreements."

Holding elections in the territories of the Donetsk region that are not controlled by Kiev is one of the objectives outlined in the Minsk agreements. However, Kiev has not yet taken the necessary legislative decisions for holding them. Besides, the authorities say the elections are impossible because of the ongoing shelling bringing to the fore its precondition - to establish its control on the border with Russia. Despite all this, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier earlier said that the elections in Donbass would top the agenda of the "Normandy format" meeting in Paris on March 3. According to him, the "Normandy Four" will focus on such a major issue as the need to pass a law aimed at holding "elections in eastern Ukraine" by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada. Nevertheless, "we need security conditions (as well)" to make sure that such elections can be held, he said.

The Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements, known as Minsk-2, that was signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015 envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk starting from February 15, 2015 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions. Under the agreements, the Ukrainian side should, in particular, carry out the constitutional reform to grant on a permanent basis the special status to certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, as well as grant amnesty to all participants in the conflict in the country’s southeast.

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