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Insurgents Declare Independence

There is still time to halt the descent of Ukraine into full-blown conflict.

Published: May 14, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



  • Insurgent leader Denis Pushilin (c) walks through a crowd with his bodyguards after his news conference in Donetsk, Monday.
    Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) Pro-Moscow insurgents in eastern Ukraine declared independence Monday and sought to join Russia, undermining upcoming presidential elections, strengthening the Kremlins hand and putting pressure on Kiev to hold talks with the separatists following a referendum on self-rule.

Russia signaled it has no intention of subsuming eastern Ukraine the way it annexed Crimea in March. Instead, Moscow is pushing to include eastern regions in negotiations on Ukraines future suggesting that Russia prefers a political rather than a military solution to its worst standoff with the West since the Cold War.

Such talks are central to a potential path toward peace outlined Monday by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The plan laid out by Swiss President Didier Burkhalter calls on all sides to refrain from violence and urges immediate amnesty, talks on decentralization and the status of the Russian language.

But its up to the Ukrainian government to take the next step.

Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk pledged to hold a dialogue with Ukraines east. But he gave no specifics and stopped short of addressing Sundays referendum and the declarations of independence in the pro-Moscow regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

We would like to launch the broad national dialogue with the east, center, the west, and all of Ukraine, Yatsenyuk told a news conference in Brussels, adding that the agenda for talks should include changes to the constitution that would give more powers to the regions.

Ukraines central government and the West say the Kremlin has encouraged weeks of unrest in eastern Ukraine in a possible attempt to grab more land. Russia says thats not so, and accuses the West of meddling in a region that Moscow sees as its backyard.

With national presidential elections scheduled for May 25, the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence Monday, and those in Donetsk even asked to join Russia instead.

The sprawling areas along Russias border, home to about 6.6 million people, form Ukraines industrial heartland.

We, the people of the Donetsk Peoples Republic, based on the results of the May 11 referendum, declare that henceforth the Donetsk Peoples Republic will be deemed a sovereign state, Denis Pushilin, co-chairman of the insurgent government, said to applause Monday.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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