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Donetsk urges Kiev to grant special status as agreed before elections are held

ELECTIONS cannot take place in Ukraine’s Donbass region until it is granted special status by the Kiev government in line with a peace treaty between the two sides, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) insisted today.

DPR Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova said Kiev was refusing to abide by the 2015 Minsk Agreement, which provided for a decentralisation of power to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Both declared independence from Ukraine following the 2013-14 Euromaidan coup, when a protest movement backed by the European Union and the United States ousted president Viktor Yanukovych after he had rejected an EU trade deal.

The Minsk protocols were signed in a bid to end the conflict that followed Mr Yanukovych’s toppling and were aimed at bringing stability to the region.

But Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Reznikov warned earlier this week that Kiev has no plans to honour the agreement. He insisted that the Donbass must be demilitarised by August, with all troops withdrawn and disarmament completed.

“We see this approach at every meeting in Minsk,” Ms Nikonorova said, adding: “We ask the international community and the guarantor countries to pay attention to these statements of a Ukrainian representative.”

She warned that Ukrainian officials are using the delay in holding the elections as a smokescreen for the real reason behind the conflict: Kiev’s refusal to accept the Donbass region’s wish for self-government.

“If Kiev wants local elections in October, they must secure Donbass’s special status in law and the constitution by August, co-ordinating its legal aspects with Donbass representatives — those who live in the region during the conflict, not those appointed by Kiev,” she said.

Ms Nikonorova said it was crucial to abide by the terms of the Minsk Agreement and that only “clear, transparent, open and conscientious dialogue directly with the representatives of the other side in the conflict can contribute to real peace and progress.”

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