Ukraine offers amnesty to pro-Russian militants

2014-04-10 16:28
A Pro-Russian protester holds a placard depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a rally in the centre of the Ukrainian city of Odessa. (Alexey Kravtsov, AFP)

A Pro-Russian protester holds a placard depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin during a rally in the centre of the Ukrainian city of Odessa. (Alexey Kravtsov, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Donetsk - The embattled acting president of Ukraine promised on Thursday not to prosecute pro-Russian militants occupying government buildings in the east of the country if they laid down their arms and halted a four-day standoff.

The olive branch came as the clock ticked down to a Friday morning deadline for the separatists to walk out of the state security building in the eastern city of Lugansk and the seat of government in nearby Donetsk or face the possible use of force.

The armed assailants want the heavily Russified east of the culturally splintered ex-Soviet nation to hold independence referendums like the one that led to Moscow's annexation of Crimea last month.

Their demands have added extra urgency to the first round of direct talks that EU and US diplomats have managed to convince both Moscow and Kiev to join at the end of next week.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, in power since the 22 February ouster of a pro-Russian leader but deemed illegitimate by the Kremlin, told lawmakers that Ukraine's latest secessionist crisis could be resolved peacefully.

"If people lay down their arms and free the administration buildings... we guarantee that we will not launch any criminal proceedings against them," he promised.

"I am ready to formalise this in a presidential decree," said Turchynov. "We can solve this problem today."

The Donetsk separatists had earlier proclaimed the creation of their own "people's republic" and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to push the tens of thousands of troops now massed along the border into Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland.

Many in Ukraine's southeast - a region with a much longer history of Russian control that stretches back to tsarist times - are wary of the more nationalist leaders who rose to power in Kiev. They have been looking to Putin for help.

But the two building occupations have drawn only small rallies of supporters. Some polls show that the region's majority would actually prefer avoiding joining the Russian Federation.

The militants holed up inside the Donetsk government seat were busy on Thursday fortifying their barricades with razor wire and old tyres that could be set on fire in case of a police assault.

Someone had painted a huge sign reading "Russia" on the side of the imposing building while a small group of elderly people handed out fliers under the drizzling rain claiming "Nazis are in power" in Kiev.

Football boss joins talks

The negotiations in Donetsk - a blue-collar coal mining region where ousted president Viktor Yanukovych made his political career - have involved some of Ukraine's most powerful security officers as well as its richest tycoon.

Officials said businessman and Shakhtar football club owner Rinat Akhmetov and the region's governor have both joined Kiev's efforts to tone down the militants' demands.

"They are working on a peaceful solution, and this fills us with optimism," said First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema.

Akhmetov - his wealth estimated by Forbes magazine at $11.4bn - was a key financial backer of Yanukovych who is thought to wield tremendous influence throughout Donetsk.

But he is believed to be trying to establish closer relations with the new pro-Western leaders who are likely to prevail in snap 25 May presidential polls.

Ukraine peace talks

Both Washington and EU nations have accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the unrest in the east in order to have an excuse to invade the region - a charge denied by Moscow.

But a seeming breakthrough in the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War era emerged on Tuesday when EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton confirmed that both Moscow and Kiev have agreed to join US officials for four-way talks.

They are expected to be held in either Vienna or Geneva on 17 April.

At stake are not only Ukraine's territorial integrity and political future but also the fate of the West's relations with Moscow and all the repercussions this carries for global security in the coming years.

Putin signalled on Wednesday that he expected the talks to follow his idea of turning Ukraine into a loose federation whose eastern regions could establish their own diplomatic and trade relations with Russia - a proposal rejected by Kiev outright.

A top US official said Washington was not setting the bar too high for the negotiations even if it did welcome the opportunity to have direct talks.

But some analysts in Moscow said Russia - its economy in danger of slipping into recession - may have realised that it had pushed relations with the West to the brink and was unwilling to escalate tensions much further.

"They now understand that they are facing serious economic sanctions," said Carnegie Moscow Centre analyst Alexei Malashenko.

Read more on:    russia  |  ukraine
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where the more positive and optimistic you are the more opportunities you seem to attract....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.