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Rebels Agree to Abide by Cease-Fire in Ukraine

Published: June 25, 2014 (Issue # 1817)


DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) Pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine agreed Monday to respect a cease-fire declared by the Ukrainian president, raising hopes for an end to months of fighting that have killed hundreds and ravaged the countrys industrial heartland.

The announcement came as the Russian and U.S. presidents traded demands over the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin urged direct talks between the government and the rebels. President Barack Obama warned Putin that Moscow will face additional costs if it does not help ease the crisis.

The insurgents pledge to respect the cease-fire came on the first day of talks between a former Ukrainian president, the Russian ambassador, European officials and the eastern separatists who have declared independence. While the government side was nominally not represented, ex-President Leonid Kuchma attended the discussions at the request of the sitting president.

The negotiations were launched in line with President Petro Poroshenkos peace plan, which started June 20 with a weeklong unilateral cease-fire in the fighting that has killed more than 350 people and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Alexander Borodai, one of the rebel leaders who took part in Mondays talks in Donetsk, said rebels would respect Poroshenkos cease-fire, which lasts through 0700 GMT (11 a.m. Moscow Time) Friday.

The insurgents had previously demanded the Ukrainian military withdraw its troops from the east as a condition for any talks, so Borodais statement represented a softened stance that raised expectations that the cease-fire could hold. Even before the insurgents made their pledge, the government said that there had been no fighting in the east since Monday morning.

Since the cease-fire was declared June 20, the Ukrainian government has accused the rebels of firing at government positions, while insurgents blamed Ukrainian forces for failing to honor the promise to halt hostilities. Poroshenko has said government troops will fire back if attacked.

The rebels, who have declared regions on border with Russia independent and fought government troops for two months, also promised to release observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who have been held hostage.

This will be one of the steps that will improve the mutual understanding of both sides, said Alexei Karyakin, a representative of the insurgents in the Luhansk region.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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