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Putin says he had no intention of provoking Kiev by Donbass decree on passports

The issue of passports for the people of Donbass is "purely humanitarian", Putin stressed

VLADIVOSTOK, April 25. /TASS/.Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he had no intention to provoke the authorities in Kiev by signing a decree on simpler rules of granting Russian citizenship to the residents of some areas of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.

"We, including myself, are very far from provoking anybody," he said. "The passports-related issue is purely humanitarian."

Putin voiced surprise why his decision to ease citizenship granting procedures had drawn such a negative reaction.

"For instance, Poland has been issuing the Pole’s Card for many years, ten or so, since 2009, if I’m not wrong," he said. "Very same Poland issues passports, and so does Romania. The latter grants passports to Hungarians, Romanians and Poles. In that connection I have this question: in what way are the Russians resident in Ukraine inferior to Romanians, Poles or Hungarians? The same is true of the Ukrainians who feel inseparable links with Russia by virtue of different reasons - kinship, mixed marriages or other considerations.

Putin said he saw nothing out of the ordinary about that.

"Moreover, other countries neighboring on Ukraine have been doing this for many years. Why cannot Russia do the same?" Putin said, adding that the people in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics were in a far worse position that Poles, Romanians or Hungarians in Ukraine.

Putin stressed the fact that people in eastern Ukraine were often denied basic human rights.

"They have problems with moving about Ukraine or third countries. In Russia, they have problems, too. Quite often they are unable to buy air or train tickets. It’s beyond the limits," Putin said.

Kiev defaults on key provisions of Minsk Accords

Putin said that the previous, outgoing and future Ukrainian authorities showed no intention to sign the corresponding regulatory acts on amnesty.

"They are not going to recognize the special status of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics. In the meantime, this is the key issue of the Minsk Accords. This means that they are not going to implement the Minsk Accords at all," he said, adding the future of the people resident in these territories, should they remain abandoned and isolated, remained anyone’s guess. Putin stressed the idea that the blockade had been introduced by Ukraine, not Russia.

"This is direct contradiction to the Minsk Accords. Nothing has been restored: no economic ties, no financial relations, nothing. Moreover, humanitarian problems are being created for the people," Putin said adding that Russia could not afford to stay an idle onlooker.

"If the people who are about to take power in Kiev find the strength to implement the Minsk Accords, we will promote this process in every possible way to return the situation to these basic principles to the maximum extent," Putin said.