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Kiev warns separatists of "actions" next week

Source: Reuters - Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:25 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Ukrainian foreign minister demands sit-ins end within days

* Separatists say Kiev square must also be cleared

By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV, April 18 (Reuters) - The Ukrainian government warned on Friday it could take "more concrete actions" next week if pro-Russian separatists do not end their occupations of public buildings under the terms of an international accord.

Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia gave no details and Kiev has threatened to use force before to little effect. The minister also said that, despite demands from the separatists in the east, the government saw no need under its deal with Russia to dismantle the pro-European Maidan camp in Kiev.

Asked whether there was a deadline for implementing the agreement on clearing occupied buildings, Deshchytsia told a news conference that he hoped this weekend's Easter holidays might ease tension and let monitors from Europe's OSCE security body oversee the process. He noted an amnesty was on offer.

"Hopefully, if those people are ready to leave the buildings, to surrender weapons, today, tomorrow, so we can encourage the OSCE mission to negotiate, to mediate and implement this," he said in English.

"But if this will not start in a few days, I think that after Easter there will more concrete actions."

He echoed other officials in saying that an "anti-terrorist" operation announced last week was continuing - though there has been little evidence of attempts to use force on the ground.

"Its intensity will depend on the practical implementation of this accord, on the real evacuation of occupied buildings and the handing over of weapons," he said of the operation.

Russia, Ukraine, the United States and European Union have agreed that: "All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated."

Pro-Russian separatists have said they will not leave until activists whose protests helped topple the pro-Moscow president in February evacuate their barricaded camp known as Maidan.

But Deshchytsia said: "This is about streets and buildings which are illegally occupied by protesters. As far as I know, Maidan is legal."

Many of those on Maidan are suspicious of the government that took power through parliament after President Viktor Yanukovich fled to Russia and they say they will remain in place until after a presidential election scheduled for May 25. (Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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