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Ukrainians With Czech Roots Head To Ancestral Homeland

Ukrainians of Czech descent have started leaving eastern Ukraine for the Czech Republic.

Czech Radio reported on March 1 that a bus carrying 40 people whose ancestors came to Ukraine when it was part of the Russian empire in the 19th century left the village of Chekhohrad -- which means Czech city -- in the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region.

The village, populated mainly by descendants of Czech immigrants, lies about 200 kilometers west of the front line in the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed rebels, which has killed more than 6,000 people since April.

Fighting has decreased following a February 12 cease-fire agreement.

At total of 138 Ukrainians of Czech descent are expected to arrive in the Czech Republic in the coming weeks.

Czech officials say all repatriates will be provided with housing, jobs, and medical insurance.

Ukrainian media reports say some 20,000 Ukrainians have Czech roots.

In late 1990s, the Czech government repatriated some 200 citizens of Kazakhstan who had Czech roots.

Based on reporting by Czech Radio and