Eastern Ukraine militants snub Geneva deal on crisis


James Reynolds reports as activists reinforce barricades in Donetsk

Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk say they will not leave the government building there, defying the Kiev authorities and threatening a new international deal on Ukraine.

The separatists' spokesman said that the Kiev government was "illegal" and so they would not go until it stepped down.

Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US earlier agreed that illegal military groups in Ukraine must leave official buildings.

The deal was reached in Geneva.

The sides agreed that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying buildings must be disarmed and leave them. The foreign ministers also agreed that there would be an amnesty for all anti-government protesters.

US President Barack Obama has cautiously welcomed the Geneva deal.

But he warned that the US and its allies were ready to impose new sanctions on Russia - accused by the West of supporting the Ukrainian separatists - if the situation failed to improve.

A tense standoff continues in eastern Ukraine, where separatists - many of them armed - are occupying official buildings in at least nine cities and towns.

Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, 18 Apr 14 The "Donetsk People's Republic" refuses to recognise the Kiev authorities
East Ukraine map

Alexander Gnezdilov, spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said his group would evacuate the government building in the eastern city only when the "illegal" Kiev government vacated parliament and the presidential administration.

Another protest leader in Donetsk said the separatists would not leave unless pro-European Union demonstrators in Kiev's Maidan Square - the vanguard of the protest movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow - packed up their camp first.

A statement from the Donetsk separatists said "we cannot accept the values of the Kiev junta, we have our heroic past going back to World War Two, we are the Russian bear which is waking up".

"Don't worry, everything will stay peaceful and orderly. The only problem is if the Kiev junta want war."

They said they would not ask Russia for help yet, but "we will have a referendum before 11 May, about Donbass independence - after that we will ask for help".

The BBC's James Reynolds recorded his day as he and a BBC team covered events in eastern Ukraine

Addressing the Ukrainian parliament on Friday, interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said an amnesty bill had been prepared for separatists who laid down their arms and left government buildings - and he urged them to do so.

"Russia was made to condemn extremism and to agree that all bandit groups should immediately lay down arms and vacate premises. So vacate. Your time is over. We are urging them to immediately observe what the Russian minister signed and to leave Ukraine alone," he said.

But later the Ukrainian interim authorities struck a more conciliatory tone. In a joint televised address, Mr Yatsenyuk and acting President Oleksander Turchynov appealed for national unity and promised to meet some of the demands of protesters in the east of the country.

They said they would support constitutional change, including the devolving of power to local councils - including over their official language, a key demand of Russian-speakers.

In other developments on Friday:

  • The interior ministry in Kiev issued an arrest warrant for Olexander Yanukovych, the eldest son of fugitive ex-President Yanukovych and a millionaire businessman, for alleged forgery of documents; the ex-president fled to Russia in February - it is not clear where he or Olexander are now
  • Russian shares bounced back after the Geneva deal - the RTS index in Moscow was up 2.8% and the MICEX up 2.3%. They had slumped earlier in the week
  • Russia demanded that Kiev explain an official notice restricting entry to Ukraine for most Russian men aged between 16 and 60.
Media spotlight on Putin

Russian newspapers devoted their front pages on Friday to coverage of a four-hour televised phone-in with President Vladimir Putin, rather than the Geneva talks.

"Vladimir Putin: You don't need to worry about a thing" said the front-page headline in Rossiskaya Gazeta, while Kommersant bore the headline: "Putin charts a stubborn line".

Pro-unity protest in Donetsk. 17 April 2014 These pro-Kiev protesters took to the streets in Donetsk

Mr Putin was repeatedly applauded by Russians during the live event, in which he demanded firm security guarantees and equal rights for Russian-speakers in Ukraine.

He said he hoped he would not have to use his "right" to send Russian forces into Ukraine.

Moscow is believed to have tens of thousands of troops massed along the border with its neighbour.

Mr Putin was speaking after Wednesday night's clash in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, in which three separatists were reportedly killed by Ukrainian security forces after hundreds of pro-Russians attacked a military base.

Start Quote

It is good that Russia is not taking the risk of an open confrontation with the West”

End Quote Vadym Karasyov Segodnya daily, Ukraine
US-UK resolve

But speaking in Washington just hours later, President Obama expressed scepticism as to whether Russia would keep its side of the bargain.

"My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don't think, given past performance, that we can count on that," he said.

In a telephone call with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the two leaders agreed that the United States and Europe were prepared to take further measures to impose a new round of sanctions if Russia failed to help restore order.

And speaking on Friday, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "We do want to see over this weekend Russia take the necessary actions to reduce tensions to make sure the agreement in Geneva yesterday is upheld.

"We believe that Russia contributed to destabilising the east of Ukraine over the last week, now it's an important obligation on them to contribute to stabilising it.

"We will all want to see evidence of that otherwise we will return to imposing more sanctions on Russia as we agreed at the beginning of the week."

Ukraine has been in crisis since President Yanukovych was toppled in February.

Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula - part of Ukraine but with a Russian-speaking majority - in a move that provoked international outrage.


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Ukraine crisis


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  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    I always find it somewhat depressing that wherever there is trouble in the world and it starts to turn to manure, that somewhere the USA and its arms salesmen the CIA & Goldman Sachs are involved. Time theUSA was persona non grata so that problems can be sorted out without American influence & interference. Just to keep you all happy, Iran is penciled in for September if the US fails in Ukraine

  • rate this

    Comment number 852.

    For tghe EU spliting Ukraine in two is pointles, because most of the industries and resources are located in the east. So EU will do all that's posible to make east Ukraine part of EU.
    Ukraine also badly need Russia, as a main exporter for its heavy industry.Russia is also ready to redirect its EU gas to China and India. A move that will benefit USA as EU will be less competitive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 851.

    845. BobTheCrate

    @840 keithlmn8
    Oh dear ... more Svoboda & RightSector clap-trap.
    Is that the best the KGB can do these days? These repetitive (barely) poisonous comments are a long way off from the days of polonium-210.

  • rate this

    Comment number 850.

    Asif Smif @ 842
    "As I've said in the past - the talks should be held without the EU, US and Russia and be supervised/lead/driven by someone neutral and with a great understanding of democracy - e.g. the Swiss."


    The ONLY people who can negotiate are IMF representatives.

    Unless the Swiss are prepared to hand over $35bn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 849.

    Whatever your thoughts on the Ukrainian crisis, one has to admit that it's a bit rich for Putin to disregard allegations against his troops as they are on the Russian side of Ukraine's border, while demanding Ukraine remove it's own troops from the East of the country. If I recall, Eastern Ukraine is still part of Ukraine no? Double standard and set of rules perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.

    Doesn't the Kremlin have any apologists who can put together a coherent sentence in English?
    I wouldn't misunderestimate them just because they don't have a statesman of the stature of Dubya or a diplomat with a turn of phrase as sophisticated as that of Victoria "Expletive the EU" Nuland.

    Best shut up Scotty....go shoot a few hoops or something...

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    We shall see more bloodshed, then Ukraine will be partitioned. Votes mean nothing when the militant Russians will simply shoot you. When there is so many guns available, democratic processes go out the window.

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    Scott0962 @ 838 and others who accuse anybody who disagrees with their POV of being 'Kremlin apologists"

    Why do you do that?

    Do you want everybody to agree with you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    @840 keithlmn8

    Oh dear ... more Svoboda & RightSector clap-trap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    macrick The West should move all US and EU backed NATO forces away from Russia borders. The US should keep out of all negotiations as they are not yet part of nor do they own Europe.This a Continental European problem caused by the EU puppets taking orders from the US.
    The US interest is patently obvious, they want to install missiles on Ukraine soil to threaten Russia typical of the USA

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    Billy, yes there would appear to be some in the Ukraine who would perhaps not be best at the whole JAW JAW thing.

    Because of the UK media we all get to see and hear that.

    But we have to hope every party and person in Ukraine allows the rule of law to progress forward, so that all the people of Ukraine have a chance to have their say.

    Its not going to be easy, but lets all hope it happens

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    831. All for All
    Should we thank the participants at Geneva?
    Or ask them to leave the stage, as responsible for both the context (greed is good) and the specific folly (greed is good in Ukraine)?

    As I've said in the past - the talks should be held without the EU, US and Russia and be supervised/lead/driven by someone neutral and with a great understanding of democracy - e.g. the Swiss.

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    NATO Commander Offers Evidence of Russian Troops in Ukraine


    russia does not have a good track record of treating non russian with respect. Why no elections in Chechnya? Democracy is a tool they like when they know the outcome before the vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    Uraine is notbthe problem. It is Putin snd the current Russian Government, orchastrating the Ukrainian installability in the east. Putin wants tge industrial east, its just a matter of how many lives will sacrificed. After Ukraine, will the Baltic states, Putin will up the anti untill someboby stands up to him. It is like Hitler, in the 1930's. There are real parallels here to Hitler.

  • rate this

    Comment number 839.

    834. Asif Smif
    826. imemomeme
    Before that?

    Oh, you mean Berlusconi! I remember the streetparties in Italy when finally he left. The start of the end of corruption in Italy!
    Come on Asif you know the beeb don't report the 'street parties' in Italy, Greece and Brussels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 838.

    re. 803.KitB

    "The *architects of the Kiev, molotov cocktail police murdering fascist thugs and sustenance givers to a coup de tat in a sovereign country."

    Doesn't the Kremlin have any apologists who can put together a coherent sentence in English?

  • rate this

    Comment number 837.

    Ukraine's contract with Gazprom expired a couple of days or so ago. Gazprom gave Kiev 1 more month to cough up the readies.

    EU leaders better get their hands in their empty pockets soon, instead of all this sabre rattling & sanctions nonsense.

    I bet the poor, long suffering German tax payer is loving all this. Greece needs another 35 billion too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 836.

    Alex, is there any rumour in the truth that the far right is heavily involved in the Kiev coup? Do you think Svoboda is a jaw jaw type of party?


    I agree that Ukraine needs time to sort itself out - that means without CIA or Russian interference but I can't see how moderates are going to get a foothold here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 835.

    "There's supposed to be elections next month. Why doesn't everyone calm down..
    Have the elections and then sit down and discuss the issues with a democratically elected government?"

    Seeing as there already was a democratically elected govt why bother? We all saw the EU and US view of it.

    Eastern Ukrainians need to keep up momentum given the western side are busily consolidating power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 834.

    827. GrumpyMungo
    The EU and it's cronies provoked this mess without realising the complex nature of the beast.


    826. imemomeme
    Before that?

    Oh, you mean Berlusconi! I remember the streetparties in Italy when finally he left. The start of the end of corruption in Italy!


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