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Donetsk, Lugansk urge direct dialogue with Kiev on lifting Donbass blockade

The initiative was put forward at the Minsk meeting of the Contact Group on eastern Ukraine crisis earlier in the day

MINSK, June 5. /TASS/. Representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have suggested immediately launching a direct dialogue with Kiev on solving the Donbass region’s pressing economic problems, DPR Foreign Minister Natalya Nikonorova said.

The initiative was put forward at the Minsk meeting of the Contact Group for settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday. "Today the DPR and LPR representatives have suggested immediately launching a direct dialogue between Ukraine and the republics in the framework of the working subgroup on economic issues," she said.

This mainly concerns the steps on lifting Ukraine’s economic blockade of the region. In particular, this includes such areas of work as mutual coordination of actions on lifting Ukraine’s economic blockade, ensuring mutual access for industrial and humanitarian cargos, agreeing on managing industrial assets, distributing revenues and expenses on their activity, and also introducing compensations to the republics’ citizens for the damage due to the blockade, including losing jobs, unpaid pensions and social benefits

Mass protests broke out in eastern Ukraine, mostly populated by Russian-speaking citizens, following a coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014 and President Viktor Yanukovich’s ouster. In mid-April of the same year, Kiev’s authorities launched a military operation in Donbass in response. Heavy shellings of residential areas, including with the use of aviation, caused a massive humanitarian disaster in the region. According to the UN, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the armed conflict and over 20,000 others have been injured.

Simultaneously, Kiev introduced a full blockade of the region, severing all economic ties. The Ukrainian authorities stopped paying social benefits to the citizens of the territories not under their control.