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article imageUkrainian government tries to negotiate with eastern protesters

By Ken Hanly     Apr 12, 2014 in Politics
Kiev - The government ultimatum to protesters in Donetsk to surrender or face forcible eviction from the regional administration building has expired but the building remains occupied. Instead the government is seeking a negotiated solution to the situation.
On Wednesday (April 9) acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov set a 48-hour deadline for activists to leave the Donetsk building or they may face eviction by force. As the deadline approached there were no signs of protesters leaving or changing their demands. The group has declared a Donetsk People's Republic and is negotiating with Ukrainian government officials.
Yatsenyuk, the interim prime minister, visited Donetsk on Friday but met only with elected officials from the region but not any of the pro-Russian activists. He claimed that reforms to the Ukrainian constitutions should satisfy the demands of many in the region for more regional power:“I do believe that we need to tackle this problem only in a peaceful manner, but we have made the offer: they are to leave the presence of the state administration, to be disarmed and we as the state of Ukraine can guarantee them that they won’t be detained or arrested, but it’s up to them”.
The interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has granted significant concessions. He has promised that Russia can remain as an official language in the regions affected. However, he also proposes a new referendum law which would allow the regions to increase their autonomy. Previously the interim government claimed that such a move was unacceptable. Although the negotiations are acrimonious they are ongoing.
The reaction of those occupying the Donetsk administrative building was dismissive of Yatsenyuk's offer. Ekaterina Gubareva who was appointed by the occupiers as foreign minister of the Republic of Donetsk in a televised statement said that the Yatsenyuk government was a junta and demanded a referendum in the area to decide whether they want to secede or join Russia. At present Ukrainian law does not allow referendums in regions apart from the entire country. This law was used to brand the Crimean referendum as illegal.
In other developments, Russian president Vladimir Putin sent a letter to 18 European countries warning that if the Ukraine did not pay its $2.2 billion debt to Gazprom, gas supplies to the Ukraine could be shut off. In response the Ukraine is seeking gas from French and German firms.
More about Ukraine Protests, Donetsk region, Arseniy Yatsenyuk
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